Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) is a particle physics experiment that is to be mounted on the International Space Station designed to search for various types of unusual matter by measuring cosmic rays. Its experiments will help researchers study the formation of the universe and search for evidence of dark matter and antimatter. It was uncertain if it would ever be launched, because it was not manifested to fly on any of the remaining Space Shuttle flights,cite web|url=|title=The Device NASA Is Leaving Behind|author=Marc Kaufman|publisher=The Washington Post|date=December 2, 2007|accessdate=2007-12-02] but the United States House of Representatives added an extra shuttle flight to carry the device to the space station.cite web|url=|title=House adds extra shuttle flight in NASA budget|author=JIM ABRAMS|publisher=The Associated Press|date=June 19, 2008|accessdate=2008-06-19] Final assembly is being completed in Geneva and delivery to Kennedy Space Center is expected to take place in late 2008.


It was proposed in 1995 (not long after the cancellation of the Superconducting Super Collider) by particle physicist Samuel Ting, who went on to direct the development work of 500 scientists from 56 institutions and 16 countries.Dennis Overbye:" [ Long-Awaited Cosmic-Ray Detector May Be Shelved] ". The New York Times, April 3, 2007] With costs of $1.5 billion as of 2007, the "New York Times" called it "one of the most expensive scientific experiments ever built".

Launch issue

NASA was to provide transport to the International Space Station on board of one of its space shuttles - an AMS prototype (AMS-01) went into space with flight STS-91 in 1998 - but after the 2003 Columbia disaster NASA decided to reduce shuttle flights and retire the remaining shuttles by 2010, with no room for AMS on the remaining flights. In 2006 NASA studied alternative ways of delivering AMS to the space station, but they proved to be too expensive. However, with the March 2006 reorganization of the Space Shuttle consolidated launch manifest, [ [ NASA managers juggle shuttle launch schedule again - NASA ] ] [ [ NASA - ISS Manifest ] ] the last planned Shuttle flight was moved up to July 2010. An additional mission to install the AMS module could be potentially flown in late 2010, if approved by the Senate, President and NASA. [ [ Atlantis gains Hubble servicing swansong - NASA ] ] When it is installed on the International Space Station, AMS (or AMS-02) will be mounted on top of the Integrated Truss Structure, specifically on USS-02 on the zenith side of the S3-element of the truss by means of the Payload Attachment System (PAS).cite web|url=|title=JSC - Phase II Safety Data Package 0|format=PDF|author=Johnson Space Center|pages=93,101|date=|accessdate=2007-12-02 ]

U.S. Representative Dave Weldon introduced H.R. 4837, known as the Space Act.cite web|url=|title=HR 4837 Spacefaring Priorities for America's Continued Exploration Act|accessdate=2008-03-28] This legislation would keep the Space Shuttle flying past 2010 at a reduced rate until the Orion spacecraft is ready. It would allow the completed-but-unused Centrifuge Accommodations Module to be launched to the ISS. This module is currently sitting in an outdoor exhibit in Tsukuba, Japan. If it was launched, this would mark the first time a station element which has been sitting outdoors for many years is launched into space. [cite web | url= | : Where is the Centrifuge Accommodation Module (CAM)?] The bill is currently in committee.cite web|url=|title=H.R. 4837: Space Act (|accessdate=2008-03-28]

The PAMELA satellite launched in 2006, a European-Russian collaboration, is carrying out some experiments similar to those planned on AMS, although AMS hopes to achieve a much higher sensitivity. [ [ ] ]

Recent developments

A [ bill] was proposed in May 2008 to launch the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to ISS on an additional shuttle flight in 2010 or 2011.cite web|url=|title=House Bill Would Authorize Additional Shuttle Flights|date=|accessdate=2008-05-19 ] The bill was passed by the full House of Representatives on June 11 2008 [cite video|people= David Kestenbaum|date2= 2008-06-10|title= NASA balks at Taking Physics Gear Into Space|url=|medium= Radio production|publisher= National Public Radio|location= Washington, D.C.|accessdate= 2008-06-10] . The bill then went before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee where it also passed.cite web|url=|title=Senate Committee Passes Bill] It was then amended and passed by the full Senate on September 25 2008, and was passed again by the House on September 27 2008. It currently awaits the President's signature or veto.cite web|url=|title=House Sends NASA Bill to President's Desk, Reaffirms Commitment to Balanced and Robust Space and Aeronautics Program] The bill would provide enough funding to enable NASA to add another Shuttle flight to the schedule before the Space Shuttle program is discontinued. [cite web |url=|title= Funding headed NASA’s way|accessdate=2008-06-14 |date= 2008-06-12|work= The Pearland Journal|publisher= Houston Community Newspapers]


Further reading

* Sandweiss J. 2004. Overview of strangelet searches and Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer: when will we stop searching?. J. Phys. G: Nucl. Part. Phys. 30 S51-S59. doi|10.1088/0954-3899/30/1/004

External links

* [ AMS Homepage] at [ CERN] . Accessed 2 December 2007.

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