AMS experiment marks one year in space

On 25 July, CERN celebrated the first year in space for the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) with a visit from the crew of the shuttle mission, STS-134, who successfully delivered AMS to the International Space Station (ISS) last year. Launched on 16 May 2011, the experiment was already sending data back to Earth by 19 May (CERN Courier July/August 2011 p18 and p23). The data are received by NASA in Houston and then relayed to the AMS Payload Operations Control Centre (POCC) at CERN for analysis. A second POCC has recently been inaugurated in Taipei.

STS-134 was the last flight for the Endeavour space shuttle, crewed by commander Mark Kelly, pilot Gregory Johnson, mission specialists Gregory Chamitoff, Michael Fincke, Andrew Feustel and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Roberto Vittori. During the celebrations at CERN, the astronauts unveiled a commemorative plaque on the lawn outside the POCC to mark the occasion and later gave a public lecture at CERN.

The AMS detector’s first year in space has been a learning curve: data have been used to calibrate the detector and understand fully its performance in the extreme thermal conditions encountered in space. However, it has already collected some 17 billion cosmic-ray events and has been able, for the first time, to identify electrons with energies exceeding 1 TeV before they enter the atmosphere. "This holds great promise for the AMS research programme that’s now getting underway," says AMS spokesperson Samuel Ting.

Two days before the event at CERN, three of the astronauts also laid a commemorative plaque for the EPS at Les Cosmiques, a former high-altitude laboratory on one side of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe, to mark 100 years of research into cosmic rays. Johnson, Kelly and Vittori laid the plaque, which marks an EPS Historic Site Laboratory.

The French National Centre for Scientific Research founded the laboratory to study cosmic rays in 1943, at a site 3613 m above sea level. Les Cosmiques was officially inaugurated in 1946 in the presence of Irène Joliot-Curie and stayed operational until 1955.

• To view the astronauts’ public lecture at CERN, see

Lebrun receives Kamerlingh Onnes Medal

Philippe Lebrun of CERN has received the Kamerlingh Onnes Medal from the Royal Dutch Association of Refrigeration (KNVvK) in recognition of his ground-breaking contributions to the field of cryogenic science and technology that made the LHC possible. Erik Hoogendoorn, the chair of the KNVvK, presented him with the award on 25 June in Delft, during the 10th IIF/IIR Gustav Lorentzen conference on natural refrigerants.

The Kamerlingh Onnes Award was established in 1948, at the 40th anniversary of the KNVvK. It is awarded for excellent contributions to the development or application of refrigeration in the broadest sense. Lebrun led CERN’s Accelerator Technology department during the construction of the LHC, which uses several thousand high-field superconducting magnets operating in superfluid helium below 2 K.

IEEE-NPSS honours Chris Parkman …

The Computer Applications in Nuclear and Plasma Sciences (CANPS) award of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers/Nuclear and Plasma Science Society (IEEE-NPSS) has been given to Chris Parkman who worked at CERN for more than 40 years. He received the award for his "outstanding development and user support of modular electronics for the instrumentation in physics applications" during the 18th IEEE-NPSS Real Time Conference, held in Berkeley on 11–15 June.

Parkman joined CERN in 1970, designing computer interfaces and read-out modules for experiments at the Proton Synchrotron. He went on to work for many experiments at subsequent machines, in particular the Large Electron–Positron (LEP) collider, and most recently the LHC, as a member of the ATLAS electronics group. He was instrumental in establishing the use of the VME bus in the LEP experiments and in the specification of VME standards. He was also for many years a key member of the ESONE Committee for the standardization of modular electronics.

… and achievements in accelerator development

The IEEE-NPSS has also honoured Hasan Padamsee of Cornell University and Vitaly Yakimenko of Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL). They received the Particle Accelerator Science and Technology Award on 24 May at the 2012 International Particle Accelerator Conference (IPAC) in New Orleans. This award, which is granted at each occurrence of the Particle Accelerator Conferences (PAC or IPAC) held in North America, recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the development of particle-accelerator science and technology.

Padamsee, who joined Cornell’s Superconducting RF group in 1973 and was its head between 1987 and 2009, was selected "for contributions to the science and technology of RF superconductivity". Yakimenko, who became the director of Brookhaven’s Accelerator Test Facility in 2005, was selected "for contributions to high-brightness electron beams and to their application to advanced accelerators and light sources".