Billions of Cosmic Rays Detected by Magnetic Spectrometer
The AMS particle detector, the very last mission of the space shuttle Endeavour was used to address some of the most exciting mysteries of modern physics, looking for antimatter and dark matter in space, phenomena that have remained elusive.
The seven tone particle detector (Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer or AMS) carried out the largest ever experiment in space. The final crew aboard space shuttle Endeavour brought AMS to the International Space Station (ISS) during the STS-134 mission last year.
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The spectrometer has broken records by identifying 17 billion 'cosmic ray' events and storing data on them for further analysis. Run from a centre at Cern, the AMS task is to spot dark matter and exotic antimatter because the 'Big Bang' must have created equal amounts of matter and anti-matter. But then anti-matter largely disappeared.
Nobel physics laureate Samuel Ting said, "the question is: where is the universe made from anti-matter? It could be out there somewhere far away producing particles that we could detect with the AMS."
The team of NASA astronauts who flew on the final space shuttle mission was back on ground at CERN near Geneva, to catch up with the progress report of the cosmic antimatter hunter.
AMS was the result of a large international collaboration with a major European participation. It is led by Nobel laureate Samuel Ting and involved about 600 researchers from CERN Member States (Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland) as well as from China, Korea, Mexico, Taiwan, and the United-States.
Few of the researchers claim that the invisible dark matter makes up to nearly 25 percent of the known universe and could be linked to antimatter. But the other researchers seem to disagree with this concept.
These scientists argue that anti-matter could not survive in the close proximity to parts of the visible cosmos that latest observations suggest dark matter occupies - sometimes like a wafting veil between planets and stars.
The only difference between matter and antimatter is that they spin in opposite direction and energy charges with same mass. They can form separate parts of some elementary particles but if they are mixed together they are both destroyed instantaneously.
"Among AMS's achievements is that for the first time, we've been able to identify electrons with energies exceeding 1 TeV before they enter the atmosphere," said Ting.
According to Reuters, it is known that Ting is cautious about how long it will take for real discoveries to compare with the sighting announced this month of a totally new particle, believed to be the long-sought Higgs Boson, in CERN's Large Hadron Collider.
Ting will be able to produce the first indication of dark matter after a detailed step by step analysis.