The alpha magnetic spectrometer (AMS) is set to undergo testing at the European Space Agency (ESA) research and technology centre in preparation for launch to the International Space Station (ISS).

The biggest scientific instrument to be installed on the ISS is the first magnetic spectrometer and largest cryogenically cooled superconducting magnet in space.

The AMS aims to improve understanding of the origin and structure of the universe by observing antimatter and dark matter.

It will gather information from cosmic radiation sources such as stars and galaxies that will be of interest to astronomers and particle physicists.

The dark matter detector is integrated at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN). It underwent tests to check its momentum resolution and its ability to measure particle curvature and momentum.

ESA’s large space simulator will further test the detector by creating conditions mimicking those in space.

After extensive testing, AMS will leave for the Kennedy Space Center, to be launched to the ISS on the Space Shuttle Endeavour on flight STS-134 scheduled for July 2010.

The AMS is an international project involving 16 countries.