Interview: HSF Director on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer
Simonetta Di Pippo, ESA Director of Human Spaceflight (D/HSF), talks about the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02) on occasion of its arrival at the launch site, the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Di Pippo, who has been following closely the development of this state-of-the-art particle physics detector, highlights its importance. AMS-02 will search for signs of antimatter and dark matter in space, and represents a big step ahead in understanding the physics of our universe and a further example in the scientific utilisation of the International Space Station (ISS). Under the leadership of Nobel Prize Laureate Professor Samuel Ting, the Principal Investigator of the experiment, AMS-02 is the result of years of collaborative work among institutions and research centres from United States, Europe and Asia.
The Director of Human Spaceflight explains the important role of the ISS as it is the only possible platform for this experiment, and emphasizes how the Space Station is also opening new fields for studies on climate change and new exploration purposes.
ESA has participated actively providing its testing facilities at ESTEC (Noordwijk, The Netherlands). Exhaustive tests played an important role in the decision of changing the original magnet, a superconducting one, which was substituted by a permanent magnet as it has a longer life expectancy, matching the extended ISS utilisation period to 2020 and beyond.
AMS-02 will be launched aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on flight STS-134 scheduled for February 2011. This mission represents a historic flight as it will not only carry this unique payload but will also be the last Shuttle flight having an European astronaut onboard, Roberto Vittori, who will be flying on an opportunity provided by the Italian Space Agency (ASI).
The interview is also available in Italian .