A $2 billion particle detector, newly installed on the International Space Station, begins its search for antimatter, dark matter, quarks, and more.
NASA / Reuters
The most complex physics experiment ever launched into space was bolted to the International Space Station on Thursday, marking the start of an exploration into cosmic origins that could last well beyond a decade.
Its successful activation also marks the first truly national-laboratory-scale physical science experiment at a space station that, so far, has only conducted what on Earth might be considered bench-top experiments in biological and physical sciences.
Within a few hours of its installation, the $2 billion particle detector began returning "an enormous amount of data," says the project's lead scientist, Samuel Ting, a Nobel prize-winning physicist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The research team, which includes 600 physicists in 16 countries, will use the 7.6-ton instrument to study very high-energy, very massive cosmic rays, which only can be directly captured and measured in space.
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