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swiss-list: Press release

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swiss-list: Press release

From: <click for textversion of email address >
Date: Thu, 28 May 1998 16:14:23 EDT
X-Mailer: AOL 3.0 for Windows 95 sub 62
Status: RO

Vous trouverez ci-dessous un communiqué de presse de notre Ambassade à
Washington concernant la future mission de Discovery.

Avec mes meilleures salutations.

Alfred Baehler, Consul Général de Suisse

Take off of the shuttle Discovery - June 2, 1998

Swiss Scientists in Search of Antimatter in Space

SNSF. On June 2, 1998 at 6.10 p.m. EDT (June 3 at 0.10 Swiss time) the shuttle
Discovery will take off for the Mir station. It will have on board the
magnetic spectrometer of cosmic particles, AMS (Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer),
which was assembled the end of last year at the Swiss Federal Institute of
Technology (SFIT) in Zurich. With the support of the Swiss National Science
Foundation, the researchers of the SFIT in Zurich and the University of Geneva
actively participated in conceiving this spectro-mete
r of which one of the objectives is to detect anti-matter particles in space.

Initiated some years ago by Prof. Samuel C.C. Ting, Nobel Prize in Physics
1976, AMS is a project of international dimension uniting Europe, Asia and
United States. Switzerland fabricated the silicon captors (research teams of
Prof. Maurice Bourquin of the University of Geneva and Prof. Hans Hofer of the
SFIT, Zurich). The Swiss participation in the project, the cost of which
amounts to between 20 and 30 million dollars, was financed to the amount of 2
million francs by the Swiss National Foundation and 5
million francs by the SFIT in Zurich. The NASA is supplying the shuttle

AMS is carrying out its first flight on June 2. During the course of the
mission STS-91, which will last a little less than ten days, the functions of
the spectrometer will be tested in space after having been tested in
Switzerland and at the Kennedy Space Center (Florida) during the first five
months of this year.

Later on, in the year 2002, the AMS is to carry out its second flight to the
international space station where it will remain between three to five years
at 430 km above the earth.

The Earth, an asymmetric exception AMS is a detector of particles with a large
opening which should permit the registering of a number of occurrences never
attained by other detectors. The researchers hope to observe, during their
passage in the captors, slight traces of nucleus and anti-nucleus
symmetrically opposed from carbonized helium which will prove that antimatter
exists in the universe. Such a discovery will necessitate a rethinking of our
world as an asymmetric exception only consisting of matter
 in a symmetric universe (matter - antimatter)

AMS should deliver other important data expected by the astrophysicists such
as the composition of the black matter of the universe (90% of our universe is
not observable) and the properties of cosmic rays.

Transport without incident AMS arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in mid
January 1998 after a transport without incident from the SFIT of Zurich, where
the various parts of the detector were assembled during the last six months of
1997. The transport did not affect AMS and its first tests on American soil
revealed very satisfying functioning.

On the spot collaboration between the physicists and the NASA was very good.
The international scientific team in charge of the AMS completed the
installation of the apparatus, the electronic equipment and the AMS
programming. Intensive tests to register cosmic rays were carried out each
night. Minor faults in the programming were discovered and corrected.

Last simulations:

At present AMS is already integrated in the shuttle Discovery. Various
communication simulations between the shuttle and the control center of
Johnson Space Center (Houston, Texas) are in progress. Simulations of the
flight situation are also being undertaken with the astronauts. The latter
will have a portable computer at their disposal which will permit them to take
the AMS in charge in the case of a communication breakdown with the ground.

The crew of the shuttle acquainted themselves with the AMS during a visit to
Switzerland in December 1997.

For additional Information:

At the John Space Center ( Houston, Texas):
Divic Rapin, chief of instruction and research at the University of
Geneva, tel. ++1/(281)( 218 72 16 (automatic answering machine);
Giovianni Ambrosi, chief assistant at the University of Geneva,
tel. ++1 (281) 218 92 46 (automatic answering machine);

At Kennedy Space Center (Florida):
Prof. Hans Hofer, Institute for High-Energy Physics at the SFIT in Zurich,
tel. ++1 (407) 459 16 30 or tel. ++1 (407) 799 003 (Cocoa Beach Hilton
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Received on Thu May 28 1998 - 13:10:20 PDT

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