A New Addition to the International Space Station
The AMS can detect and sort hundreds of billions of high-energy particles whizzing through space
- By Elizabeth Quill
- Smithsonian magazine, March 2013
One goal of the dizzying data collection is to understand why matter and antimatter, believed to have been created in equal measure when the universe was born, didn’t annihilate themselves out of existence. If they had, there would be no matter as we know it: no stars, no planets, no gelato. To look for lingering antimatter, AMS contains a giant doughnut-shaped magnet that creates a magnetic field 3,000 times as strong as Earth’s. Subatomic particles streaming through the device bend according to their charge; detectors collect details on a particle’s path and speed, beaming these and other stats back to Earth.