AMS ready for launch

On 29 April, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) will complete its long expedition to the International Space Station on board the space shuttle Endeavour. The Endeavour is set to lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Station at 15:47 EST (21:47 CET).


Samuel Ting, principal investigator for the AMS project, and Rolf Heuer, CERN Director-General, visit the Kennedy Space Centre before the AMS launch.  Courtesy of NASA and Kennedy Space Center.

AMS is a CERN recognised experiment, created by an internal collaboration of 56 institutes. It will be the first large magnetic spectrometer to be used in space, and has been designed to function as an external module on the ISS. AMS will measure cosmic rays without atmospheric interference, allowing researchers on the ground to continue their search for dark matter and antimatter in the Universe. Data collected by AMS will be analysed in CERN’s new AMS Control Centre in Building 946 (due for completion in June 2011).

The Endeavour is set to return to Earth on 14 May, leaving AMS on board the ISS where it will stay for the station’s remaining lifetime. This mission will be the last for the retiring shuttlecraft, and the penultimate mission in the space shuttle programme.

Audiences worldwide are invited to watch a live webcast hosted by CERN, on 29 April from 21.30-22.30 CET. The webcast will feature interviews with members of the AMS collaboration at CERN, as well as images from NASA. If you can’t tune in for the event, follow @astroparticle on twitter for the latest updates on the launch. You can also tweet @cern during the webcast with your questions for the participating scientists.

by Katarina Anthony