The AMS-02 experiment was delivered to NASA's Kennedy Space Center via a C-5M Super Galaxy today. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian
CAPE CANAVERAL -- The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-02 (AMS-02), currently scheduled to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) with the STS-134 mission next year, was displayed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Aug. 26 for members of the media. This event highlighted the potential scientific rewards that can be gained from the AMS-02 experiment.
AMS-02 is a particle physics experiment package that will be attached to the exterior of the ISS. The device detects exotic forms of matter by scanning cosmic rays and it is hoped that it will help provide scientists with clues as to how the universe was formed. One of the experiment’s primary objectives will be to seek out highly-exotic forms of matter such as dark matter, strangelets and antimatter.
Nobel laureate physicist Samuel Ting is the project’s principal investigator. Final testing was completed at the European Space Agency’s (ESA) European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) facility located in the Netherlands. Testing of the AMS-02 caused the shuttle launch manifest to be readjusted due to problems with the AMS-02’s cooling system.
AMS-02 will be part of STS-134’s payload when it travels to the ISS as part of station assembly flight ULF6 onboard space shuttle Endeavour. It will be extracted from the shuttle’s cargo bay via the shuttle's robotic arm and handed to the space station's robotic arm. The experiment will then be affixed to the top of the Integrated Truss Structure, on the S3-element of the space station's truss.
Launch of STS-134 is currently scheduled to take place no-earlier-than Feb. 26, 2011 at 4:04 p.m. EDT. Although STS-134 is the last planned flight on the shuttle manifest it appears that an additional mission will be added that will take place between June-Aug of next year. This mission would be STS-135 and would utilize the orbiter Atlantis.