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Environment

Cosmic Ray Detector Gets To Space Station

by Susan R. Morrissey
May 23, 2011 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 89, ISSUE 21

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Credit: Glenn Benson/NASA
Technicians prepare AMS for launch.
8921govcon_live-1.jpg
Credit: Glenn Benson/NASA
Technicians prepare AMS for launch.

When the space shuttle Endeavour took off last week on its last flight and the shuttle program’s penultimate mission, it was carrying a novel cosmic ray detector to the International Space Station. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-02 (AMS) and other supplies will increase the research capabilities of the station. Designed to track, but not capture, cosmic rays, AMS is a 2-ton ring of powerful magnets and ultrasensitive detectors. Scientists, who will control the instrument from Earth, hope to detect material—such as dark matter and antimatter—that is not visible by current methods. AMS will be attached outside the space station and is built to function as long as the station is operational. NASA’s space shuttle team deserves “tremendous credit for their accomplishments and their continued commitment to the success of the program, which has pushed the boundaries of science, space exploration, and engineering,” House of Representatives Science, Space & Technology Committee Chairman Ralph M. Hall (R-Texas) said in a statement.

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