Our new Indie Games subforum is now open for business in G&T. Go and check it out, you might land a code for a free game. If you're developing an indie game and want to post about it, follow these directions. If you don't, he'll break your legs! Hahaha! Seriously though.
Our rules have been updated and given their own forum. Go and look at them! They are nice, and there may be new ones that you didn't know about! Hooray for rules! Hooray for The System! Hooray for Conforming!
STS-134 (ISS assembly flight ULF6) is the penultimate voyage of NASA's Space Shuttle program. The mission marks the final flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour. This flight will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer and an ExPRESS Logistics Carrier to the International Space Station. Mark E. Kelly is serving as the mission commander. STS-134 was expected to be the final space shuttle mission if STS-135 did not receive funding from Congress; however, in February 2011, NASA stated that STS-135 would fly "regardless" of the funding situation. The Launch On Need mission, a contingency mission to rescue a stranded STS-134 crew, would be the STS-335 flight, flown by Atlantis.
And it's delivering this, quite possibly the most important scientific instrument since Hubble:
It's designed to find:
Experimental evidence indicates that our galaxy is made of matter; however, scientists believe there are about 100-200 billion galaxies in the Universe and some version of the Big Bang theory of the origin of the Universe require equal amounts of matter and antimatter. Theories that explain this apparent asymmetry violate other measurements. Whether or not there is significant antimatter is one of the fundamental questions of the origin and nature of the Universe. Any observations of an antihelium nucleus would provide evidence for the existence of antimatter. In 1999, AMS-01 established a new upper limit of 10−6 for the antihelium/helium flux ratio in the Universe. AMS-02 will search with a sensitivity of 10−9, an improvement of three orders of magnitude over AMS-01, sufficient to reach the edge of the expanding Universe and resolve the issue definitively.
The visible matter in the Universe, such as stars, adds up to less than 5 percent of the total mass that is known to exist from many other observations. The other 95 percent is dark, either dark matter, which is estimated at 20 percent of the Universe by weight, or dark energy, which makes up the balance. The exact nature of both still is unknown. One of the leading candidates for dark matter is the neutralino. If neutralinos exist, they should be colliding with each other and giving off an excess of charged particles that can be detected by AMS-02. Any peaks in the background positron, anti-proton, or gamma ray flux could signal the presence of neutralinos or other dark matter candidates, but would need to be distinguished from poorly known confusing astrophysical signals.
Six types of quarks (up, down, strange, charm, bottom and top) have been found experimentally; however, the majority of matter on Earth is made up of only up and down quarks. It is a fundamental question whether there exists stable matter made up of strange quarks in combination with up and down quarks. Particles of such matter are known as strangelets. Strangelets might have extremely large mass and very small charge-to-mass ratios. It would be a totally new form of matter. AMS-02 may determine whether this extraordinary matter exists in our local environment.
Awesome, huh? But with this being the second to last mission for the shuttle program, there are doubts as to whether America will ever have such a versatile means of accessing (spaaaaace!!) again anytime soon.
What are your hopes for the future of manned space flight? Do anyone think that Obama's (Guilty! Of not being in Space! Go directly to space Jail!) promise of a Mars mission in 2030 will actually happen? Or will the private sector get there first?