June 25th, 2011

Three hours after AMS-02 was installed on the International Space Station on May 19th, it got used to its new life in Space and started detecting particles smoothly and continuously: at a rate of about 50 millions of cosmic rays/day it has already captured more than one billion events! While the spectrometer was happily collecting particles in space, the AMS-02 team managed to transfer the Payload Operation Control Center (POCC) from JSC – Houston to a new building at CERN – Geneva.

Credit: NASA

The AMS-02 team has been very busy during the last month to ensure that the data were collected properly: it is a continuous flow of data at about 10 Megabits per second (Mbps), which requires on-line storage, monitoring and processing. While a group of people take shifts monitoring the correct operation of the experiment in space, another team makes sure that data are properly processed by a cluster of computers at CERN, before distribution to the regional centers for specific detector related analysis and calibrations.
The experiment is controlled from the POCC 24/7: each subsystem has a dedicated monitor desk, a special position is devoted to data flow, one to the commanding function, the only one which can issue commands to be uploaded by the ISS control center in Marshall. So far nearly 3 TB have been sent to ground from AMS-02.

AMS-02 people control monitors at POCC - JSC

AMS-02 detectors operate at typical temperatures a few degrees above 0 C, although there are slow seasonal variations due to the continuous changes of the ISS attitude towards the sun.

On June the 24th the POCC has started operating at CERN, Geneva. There AMS-02 will be controlled all along its long life in space.