From space to CERNAstronauts from the space-shuttle mission to visit CERN and Alps.
Astronauts from the space-shuttle mission that carried the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02) to the International Space Station are visiting CERN this week. On Monday, they laid a European Physical Society (EPS) commemorative plaque at the high–altitude laboratory Les Cosmiques, to mark 100 years of research in the field of cosmic rays.
The French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) inaugurated Les Cosmiques in 1946 to study cosmic rays and their applications in nuclear physics. The lab sits at 3613 metres above sea level above the town of Chamonix, France. At the time when the lab was in operation, high-voltage lines suspended above the glaciers supplied the necessary electric power.
Though early cosmic-ray research took place high in the atmosphere – in 1911-1912 physicist Victor Hess famously took a series of radiation measurements at 5300 metres from onboard a hot-air balloon – laboratories on the ground at high altitude were essential for cosmic-ray measurements before space-based detectors such as AMS-02 were technically and financially feasible.
The astronauts gave a public lecture at CERN on 25 July. The recording is available here.