A futuristic experiment sounding like something out of a scifi novel, that will hunt for antimatter galaxies and signs of dark matter, was nearly cancelled but is finally poised to voyage into orbit aboard the next-to-last space shuttle mission.
The $2 billion Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a more than 15,000-pound (6,900-kilogram) device searching for cosmic- rays — high-energy charged particles from outer space — will ride up to the International Space Station on the shuttle Endeavour this Friday April 29.
The instrument will employ a nearly 4,200-pound (1,900 kg) permanent magnet to generate a strong, uniform magnetic field more than 3,000 times more intense than Earth’s. This deflects cosmic rays so that a battery of detectors can analyze their properties, such as charge and velocity, and beam their findings to mission control.
When NASA launches the experiment, Sam Ting, Principal Investigator for the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 experiment, hopes that it will provide data that proves the existence of parallel universes that are composed of anti-matter. Discoveries could verify theories and answer basic questions regarding how the Universe formed.