Space Station to Receive New Anti-Matter Detector Component

Apr 27, 2010 by John Messina weblog
NASA photo of International Space Station.

( -- Scientist plan on replacing the liquid helium cooled magnet, in the anti-matter detector, with an Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. This will increase the life span of the detector from 3 years to about 18 years.

The AMS (anti-matter spectrometer) is designed to search for anti-matter particles as well as perform other experiments. The device is equipped with over 300,000 data channels that require compression with an on-board supercomputer before the information can be transmitted to Earth.

AMS functions by sampling high-energy particles from deep space. The sensitivity of the AMS is more than 100 to 1,000 times more sensitive than previous instruments.

AMS removed from storage facility and being tested.

Samuel Ting of MIT is overseeing a 500 member global team of scientist to work on this 1.5 billion dollar project. This was made possible because US President Barack Obama has proposed to extend the space station for a minimum of 5 years beyond 2015, with an additional budget of 3 billion dollars per year.

In an interview with BBC News Ting stated: “This really is the very first very, very precise particle physics detector. You enter into a totally new domain. It's very hard to predict what you'll find."

The AMS is a prototype that flew on a 1998 space shuttle mission and was recently taken out of a clean room storage facility in Germany. By replacing the liquid helium cooled magnet with the AMS cuts the power of the magnetic field that is used bend the path of charged cosmic particles while they pass through various detectors.

Ting is optimistic that having the less powerful AMS in orbit the extra years would more than compensate for the liquid helium cooled magnet. There are also spares on hand if it ever requires replacement.

Explore further: NASA's reliance on outsourcing launches causes a dilemma for the space agency

More information: Via: BBC News

Related Stories

In Search of Antimatter Galaxies

Aug 17, 2009

NASA's space shuttle program is winding down. With only about half a dozen more flights, shuttle crews will put the finishing touches on the International Space Station (ISS), bringing to an end twelve years ...

AMS experiment embarks on first leg of mission into space

Feb 12, 2010

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) left CERN this morning on the first leg of its journey to the International Space Station (ISS). A special convoy carrying the experiment is due to arrive at the European Space Agency’s ...

Dark matter detective arrives at ESTEC

Feb 17, 2010

( -- One of the most exciting scientific instruments ever built, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), arrived at ESA's Test Centre in the Netherlands for testing before being launched on the ...

'Exciting' project may not get to space

Dec 02, 2007

The upcoming launch of a laboratory to the International Space Station has been clouded by NASA's failure to deliver a device to study the universe's origins.

NASA postpones last shuttle mission to November

Apr 27, 2010

NASA has pushed to November the launch of one of its three remaining shuttle missions to modify an experiment module to be attached to the International Space Station (ISS).

Better track leads to new particles

Dec 07, 2006

In particle accelerators new particles often arise as a result of collisions between elementary particles. However the track left by these particles is often difficult to trace. Dutch researcher Thijs Cornelissen ...

Recommended for you

New Horizons spacecraft experiences anomaly

50 minutes ago

The New Horizons spacecraft experienced an anomaly the afternoon of July 4 that led to a loss of communication with Earth. Communication has since been reestablished and the spacecraft is healthy.

Dwarf planet Ceres offers big surprises for scientists

52 minutes ago

The closer we get to Ceres, the more perplexing the dwarf planet grows. NASA's Dawn spacecraft has found several more bright spots as well as a pyramid-like peak jutting out of the frigid world's surface.

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (1) Apr 27, 2010
Anti-mater? Anything like antimatter?
3 / 5 (2) Apr 27, 2010
Yea matter is a pretty easy word to spell...hard to believe an editor didn't catch the grammar problem in the title....

Outside of that, they don;t get very detailed other than the fact they are putting the AMS up there...
5 / 5 (1) Apr 27, 2010
Not "anti-matter" -- "Alpha Magnetic" (see first paragraph). I suspect that the author is not a great science mind.
5 / 5 (2) Apr 27, 2010
Have a look at . It offers a better description of AMS-02.
not rated yet Apr 27, 2010
Thanks _Osiris and fajo for the clarification and the link. I think that the article had a cut & paste slip [one of the goals is to detect antimatter], but besides that, spelling pointed out by NotAsleep and observation of dearth of information by LuckyBrandon there was another issue:

This article states or implies that the AMS will not use a magnet that requires liquid helium:
By replacing the liquid helium cooled magnet with the AMS

but the NASA web page indicates that it uses a 0.8 Tesla superconducting magnet with low temperature "superfluid" helium at 1.8K (my comment: normally magnets at that field strength use regular liquid helium which is 3 to 4 K)

Using a permanent magnet or high temp superconductor at this field and this application would be very interesting in itself.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.