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Two astronauts will venture outside the International Space Station (ISS) for a complicated spacewalk early Friday morning (Nov. 22), and you can catch the cosmic action live.
NASA astronaut Drew Morgan and the European Space Agency’s Luca Parmitano will conduct the second in a series of five planned spacewalks to fix the aging and ailing Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), which has been hunting for cosmic rays since 2011.
The extravehicular activity (EVA) is scheduled to begin at 7:05 a.m. EST (12:05 GMT). You can watch live here at Space.com, courtesy of NASA, or directly via the space agency. Coverage begins at 5:30 a.m. EST (1030 GMT).
Morgan and Parmitano, who commands the ISS’ current Expedition 61, performed the first AMS-servicing spacewalk on Nov. 15. That EVA lasted 6 hours and 39 minutes, but much more work is required to repair the failing cooling system on the $2 billion cosmic-ray detector.
Indeed, the current EVA series are considered the most challenging spacewalks since astronauts last visited the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009, in large part because the AMS wasn’t designed to be serviced.
“We’re going to perform what could be considered open-heart surgery on this amazing experiment,” Parmitano said before the Nov. 15 EVA. “It’s a combination of things that makes this EVA so challenging. You have certainly an access problem … AMS is in a remote area without handles or locations to hold onto, because it was not made to be repaired [on] EVA.”
The AMS’ observations are helping scientists better understand the abundance of antimatter and could also end up shedding considerable light on the nature of mysterious dark matter and dark energy, which together make up the vast majority of the universe.
AMS is operated by a consortium of 56 institutes across 16 different countries. The principal investigator is Samuel Ting, who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1976 along with Burton Richter for discovering a subatomic particle called the J/psi meson.
Mike Wall’s book about the search for alien life, “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), is out now. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.
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