Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer Update

May 19, 2011 at 6:47 am | Posted in Miscellaneous, Regular Feature, Science News | Leave a comment


As reported here last month on April 19TH, The Spaces Shuttle Endeavor (STS-134) has deployed the sensor array known as the Alpha Magnetic Spectometer in an attempt to directly observe anti-matter, dark matter and other exotic particles in space. The device was installed on the International Space Station around 6 AM EDT this morning using the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

You can watch the procedure by clicking the NASA TV link above. I will include a quote from the NASA press kit as a further expanation of what the device is and what it does but if you would like to read it in it’s entirety you can read it here starting on page 30.

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS) is a state-of-the-art particle physics detector to be delivered to the International Space Station. Using a large magnet to create a magnetic field that will bend the path of the charged cosmic particles already traveling through space, eight different instruments will provide information on those particles as they make their way through the magnet. Armed with that information, hundreds of scientists from 16 countries are hoping to determine what the universe is made of and how it began, as the AMS searches for clues on the origin of dark matter and the existence of antimatter and strangelets. And if that’s not enough, there is also the information it could provide on pulsars, blazers and gamma ray bursters and any number of phenomena that have yet to be named.

If dark matter exists, the AMS will be able to detect it. For instance, one candidate for the particles that are dark matter is the hypothetical, elementary neutralino particle. If neutralinos exist, their collision could create excesses of electrons and anti-electrons – positrons – that could then be detected by the AMS. The AMS could also detect antimatter and help answer another key question. Antimatter is made up of particles identical to those of regular matter, but with opposite electric and magnetic properties. The Big Bang theory assumes that there were equal amounts of matter and antimatter present when the universe began, in the complex form of helium anti-nuclei or heavier elements has never been found in nature. If it still exists, the AMS should be able to detect it – in the 10 years or more that the AMS will be in operation at the International Space Station, its detectors will see at least one (and possibly many) antihelium nucleus, if such a thing exists. If the detectors never see one, the AMS team will be able to affirm that they do not exist in the visible universe.

by Revmacd for Roqoo Depot

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