The First Five years of AMS on the International Space Station
The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) is a high energy physics DOE experiment for the spectroscopy of cosmic rays with unprecedented precision and has been successfully operating on the International Space Station since 2011.
Nobel Laureate Professor Samuel Ting, the P.I. of AMS, presented a colloquium at CERN (Switzerland) at 5PM Geneva time on Thursday 8 December 2016. After that, at 7PM Geneva time, the collaboration made a press announcement simultaneously in all of the 15 countries that are part of the collaboration in Europe, Asia and Americas (Brazil, China, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, and the United States).
The AMS group at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, is composed of 2 faculty members from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Veronica Bindi and Philip Von Doetinchem and several postdocs (C. Consolandi, A. Datta, M. Palermo), PhD students (C. Corti, T. Nelson, K. Whitman) and undergraduates.
Dr. Bindi's main research topics are the study of Dark Matter, Cosmic Rays, Solar Physics and Space Radiation. Since 2002, she has been part of the team at CERN that lead the construction, integration and testing of AMS. She is the PI of two grants, one funded by the NASA Space Radiation Group involved in the future manned mission to Mars and an NSF CAREER Award to study Solar Energetic Particles with the AMS experiment. The major results from her research group are shown in the “Solar Physics” paragraph of this press release. In summary, they analyzed cosmic ray fluxes of different particle species continuously over 5 years of AMS operation, showing with unprecedented accuracy how these particles are affected by the solar activity. Furthermore, they proved that positive and negative particles show a different behavior related to the change of the solar magnetic field polarity. This intriguing result, never observed before in such detail, will require improvements of theoretical models to be understood.
Also Dr. von Doetinchem joined the AMS collaboration more than a decade ago in 2003 and has been an Assistant Professor since 2013. He was involved in the experiment development and testing before the launch and his group is currently conducting the challenging search for a very rare species of cosmic rays that has yet to be found - antideuterons. Antideuterons are composed of the antiparticles of the proton and the neutron, which are essential building blocks for every known element. A first-time detection of antideuterons in space is a particularly promising way to learn more about the mysterious dark matter, which is more than five times more abundant than the matter that the solar system and stars are made of. Doetinchem received an NSF CAREER award in 2016 for exactly this study with the AMS experiment. Furthermore, he is involved in additional experimental efforts to tackle other aspects of the same question and is part of the team that was just selected from NASA to build the new General AntiParticle Spectrometer (GAPS) experiment.