Endings and New Beginnings: Endeavour and the AMS

In April, the Space Shuttle Endeavour and her crew of six will make a final flight to the International Space Station.  Fans of NASA’s human spaceflight program have begun to mourn the end of an era in the retirement of the space shuttle.   

In other circles, excitement is building over the cargo Endeavour will be delivering to the ISS – the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer or AMS-02 for short.   The AMS-02, a state of the art particle physics experiment, represents a scientific collaboration of 56 institutions from 16 countries under the banner of the United States Department of Energy (DoE).

And it’s kind of a big deal.

In fact, groundwork for the AMS-02 began back in 1994. And now we stand mere weeks away from its final deployment and installation on the ISS.  A particle detector outside of Earth’s shielding atmosphere offers opportunities and potential results that could change our understanding of the makeup of our Universe.

Over the coming days and weeks, this blog will cover everything you could want to know about the AMS-02. What is it? How does it work? Why should we care? What do we mean by “particle detector” anyway? And of course I’ll be delving into the science behind this ground-breaking experiment.

In this era of uncertainty and change, NASA is still presenting us with new and intriguing ideas, opportunities, technology and science.   And that is something to get excited about.

Image credits: NASA

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