February 16th, 2010

On February 12th, an unusual series of trucks left CERN in the early morning, directed to the ESA ESTEC Center,  located in Noordwjik, Holland. The trucks were transporting the fully integrated AMS-02 spectrometer, together with all  kind of ground support equipment needed to operate the spectrometer during space qualification tests.

In the week preceeding the departure for ESTEC, the AMS-02 spectrometer has been exposed to high energy particle beams at CERN (proton, electrons, photons) to calibrate the performances  of the various subdetectors and, most important, of the whole spectrometer. The superconducting magnet operated  smoothly at a current of 400 Amperes. All detectors did show excellent performances.

Two kind of  tests were going to be performed at ESTEC: EMC (Electro Magnetic Compatibility) tests, to ensure that the payload and the ISS are compliant from the point of view of the electromagnetic radiation radiated and received, and TVT (Thermo – Vacuum Tests), to verify the complex thermal behaviour of the spectrometer when exposed to the extreme temperatures of space. In particular, the TVT tests will provide a measurement of the thermal load on the Superconducting Magnet,  a fundamentally important  parameter to define the endurance of the magnet in the rather warm environment of the ISS.