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Research Progress

China's Permanent Magnet Lift off into Space

May 19, 2011

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02) particle detector took off on May 16, 2011 onboard the very last mission of the space

 
Endeavour at Launch Pad - Photo Credit: Michele Famiglietti AMS-02 Collaboration
Shuttle Endeavour. AMS-02 will then be installed on the International Space Station from where it will explore the Universe for a period of over 10 years to study the universe and its origin by searching for antimatter, dark matter while performing precision measurements of cosmic rays composition and flux.

"What is rarely known by the public is that AMS-02 is equipped with a strong Chinese heart, which is a very robust and reliable permanent magnet made in China. The magnet is 1.2m in diameter, and weighs 2.6 tons. The intensity of the central magnetic field is up to 1370 gauss, 3000 more intense than that of the Earth.”, Dr. CHEN Hesheng, director of the Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences(IHEP), said in an interview.

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) experiment is a large international collaborative program under the leadership of Professor Samuel Chao Chung TING, a famous physicist and a Nobel Prize laureate in physics. Taking part in this program are scientists and engineers of 30 odd research institutions from 16 countries and regions like the United States, China, Russia, Finland, Germany, Italy, Romania, Switzerland, etc.

AMS-01 is the first large magnetic spectrometer ever sent into the space by human beings. Loaded on board the American space shuttle ST91 of “Discoverer” on June 2, 1998, it successfully underwent the first 10-day experimental flight in space. Dr. CHEN witnessed the 10-day experiment in NASA's Kennedy Space Center. 13 years after its first mission, the China’s permanent magnet was chosen again for the anti-matter and dark matter search.

The anti-matter and dark matter, two kinds of mysterious matters, should exist in theory. However, there is no evidence in real 

 
The AMS PM, already flown in 1998, currently (April 2010) at Aachen (D)  pic from www.AMS02.org
life which could prove their existence. “The universe would be the final laboratory”, Prof. Ting said in his bulletin published at the end of April this year. 

What is amazing about this strong Chinese heart?

The scientific researchers from the Institute of Electrical Engineering (IEE), IHEP, the Center for Space Science and Applied Research (CSSAR), the Chinese Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALVT) joined in the design and manufacture of the permanent magnet. The permanent magnet is made of Neodymium-Iron-Boron and consists of over 6000 Nd-Fe-B blocks  (2⨯2⨯1 inches³). The picture shows a section of the magnet with 64 blocks. The Magnet is composed by 100 of such sections. The AMS Permanent Magnet has been tested for mechanical stresses such as vibration, centrifugal test and space qualification tests. The PM proved high reliability and resistance.

On Thursday May 19th, AMS-02 will finally be transferred to the ISS and activated. AMS-02 team is really excited and concentrated at the same time. For more detailed AMS-02 information, please check www.ams02.org, www.nasa.gov.

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