News / Science & Technology

Space Station Gets Matter Minder

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station
TEXT SIZE - +

Astronauts achieved the primary goal of the space shuttle Endeavour's final mission Thursday when they installed an instrument called the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on the International Space Station.  Scientists have lofty aims for this $2 billion device that will comb through particles in the cosmos. These aims that can best be understood if we look at our own world.   

To most people, so-called "normal matter" is really all that matters.  Normal matter is anything with atoms - basically, our world.  Everything from the person next to you to the car you drive to the fuel in its tank, from the air you breathe to the water you drink to the clothes on your back.         

But astronomers estimate that only a fraction of our universe - maybe less than five percent - is made of so-called "normal matter."  They say the rest of our universe is made up of mysterious dark energy and dark matter.  By their very nature, dark energy and dark matter are not visible, but they can still be detected.

In order to shed some proverbial light on dark energy and dark matter, hundreds of scientists from 16 countries worked to create the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, or AMS.  

Scientists hope this sophisticated instrument will yield insights into the composition and origins of our universe.

Earlier this week, NASA flight director Gary Horlacher told reporters that this new instrument and the discoveries it is expected to make reminded him of another marvel - the Hubble Space Telescope, which has delivered spectacular images of the universe from its orbit 570 kilometers above the Earth.

"You set up these scientific experiments to go off and look for a certain collection of things you're trying to prove or discover, and you end up learning something that you didn't expect which, you know, the Hubble [Space Telescope] has done that," said Horlacher. "All the great observatories have ended up surprising us. So, not only do we expect great things from AMS, but there is also a high probability we are going to learn quite a bit that we didn't even expect."

The AMS is a sophisticated particle detector that will use a large magnet to create a magnetic field that will bend the path of charged cosmic particles that are traveling through space.  It will not capture the particles, but various instruments will automatically provide information about the particles to scientists in 16 countries.  

The $2 billion instrument will be operated remotely from Earth. The AMS team will monitor the experiment 24 hours a day for as long as the space station is in orbit.   

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid