Wallpaper Wednesday

25 05 2011
Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2. Photo credit: NASA.

Today’s wallpaper shows the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS-02) holding steady in its new home on the integrated truss structure of the International Space Station. Delivered to the ISS on May 19th by STS-134 under the command of Mark Kelly, the AMS-02 will be the first magnetic spectrometer used in space.  From its orbital position, the instrument will gather and measure cosmic rays as part of the on-going search for primordial antimatter and dark matter in the universe.  At the heart of the AMS-02 is a large magnet, the field of which will be used to distinguish matter from anti-matter. As particles and anti-particles pass through a uniform magnetic field, they bend in opposite directions.  The specific particle curvature (positive or negative) identifies the particle as electron or positron.  In addition, the radius of the curvature allows scientists to measure the particles momentum at the time of collection. More on the science (dark matter, anti-matter, strangelets, and cosmic rays) and technology (instruments) of the AMS-02 can be found on the instrument’s website. You can also follow the instrument on twitter @AMS-02.