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Today's spacewalk will repair a crucial experiment for dark matter

A computer generated image of AMS on the ISS
Image : NASA / JSC

Astronauts Andrew Morgan of NASA and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency is outside the International Space Station (ISS) as we speak. The duo takes a spacewalk to conduct an important experiment on dark matter . You can watch the progress here (and look again).

S Regular Tempowalks take place (there was a historical only last month) but Friday is the most complex maintenance mission since the Hubble repair mission, according to NASA. The last Hubble repair took place a decade ago. The astronauts are working to develop an exciting experiment on the search for Dark Matter which accounts for most of the bulk of the universe, but which was only indirectly observed. After a decade of development, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) 2011 was brought to the ISS on the penultimate Space Shuttle flight.

The AMS is a controversial particle detector aboard the ISS that measures the high-energy particles that radiate through space called cosmic rays. The best known is that it is one of several experiments that found an excess of the antimatter partner for the electron, the positron. To this day, it is not entirely clear where these extra positrons come from in cosmic rays (19459011) – perhaps they have their origin (19459011) in a nearby neutron star, or perhaps they are the sign of something more exotic, such as dark matter. Research using AMS data will hopefully also detect a strange waste at high-energy antimatter, which was observed by the Chinese DAMPE satellite.

AMS is also looking for antimatter especially antimatter counterparts to the helium nuclei. Cosmic Radiation can not create these nuclei, which means that they have been born somewhere else in the universe, perhaps in a galaxy that is mostly antimatter. Many are skeptical that these areas exist in the universe Scientific Reports .

Despite all the work done by AMS, it is also rough . Three of its four coolant pumps have failed. The Space Walk on Friday is part of a series (maybe four or five) to replace the pumps and replenish the coolant. If these repairs fail the experiment has at least expanded scientists' knowledge of cosmic rays and their workings.

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