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Norway joins hunt for antimatter

When the very last Space Shuttle takes off from Kennedy Space Center next February, bound for the International Space Station (ISS), it will carry an instrument with a Norwegian component.

According to the Norwegian Space Centre (NSC), the Space Shuttle's cargo is the result of 15 years of cooperation between 60 institutes in 16 different countries.

NSC explains that a very powerful magnet is a significant part of the AMS-2. It creates a magnetic field 4000 times stronger than the Earth’s, and makes it possible to characterize cosmic particles passing through the detector.

The Oslo based company Gamma Medica-Ideas has delivered a component for the largest detector on AMS-02. The component is an integrated circuit attached to the detector’s sensor. It registers the signals from the particles passing through the detector and connects them to a computer system on AMS-02.

One of the big questions is whether a considerable quantity of antimatter exists in the universe or not. Scientists hope AMS-02 will be able to solve this mystery.

Another big cosmological quest is to find out what dark matter and dark energy is, and what it does. AMS-02 is constructed find the building blocks of dark matter.

The spectrometer will also be measuring cosmic radiation, a severe threat to the health of astronauts who might head for Mars in the future.

Accurate measurements of cosmic radiation are therefore important in order to develop adequate protection for the astronauts, the NSC states.

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