09 August 2011

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1st time Pamela satellite discovers Antimatter, antiprotons Belt around Earth – a treasure trove of future fuel

1st time Pamela satellite discovers Antimatter,
antiprotons Belt around Earth – a treasure trove of future fuel

In 2006 Pamela satellite (an acronym for Payload for Antimatter Matter Exploration and Light-nuclei Astrophysics) was launched to study the nature of high-energy particles from the Sun and from beyond our Solar System - so-called cosmic rays.

Cosmic rays - high-energy particles from the Sun and beyond the solar system which barrel into Earth.
When those cosmic rays smash into molecules in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, a shower of smaller particles is created. Physicists have assumed that a small number of those resulting particles will be anti-protons.

Most of those will be instantly annihilated when they collide with particles of ordinary matter. But those which don’t collide should get trapped in the Earth’s torus-shaped Van Allen radiation belt, and form a layer of antimatter in the Earth’s atmosphere.

One of the goals of the Pamela was to specifically look for small numbers of antimatter particles among the far more abundant normal matter particles such as protons and the nuclei of helium atoms.

To find them, the satellite regularly moved through a particularly dense section of the Van Allen belt called the South Atlantic Anomaly. Over a period of 850 days from July 2006 to December 2008 sensors aboard PAMELA detected 28 anti-protons.

For the first time a thin band of antimatter particles called antiprotons enveloping the Earth were spotted by the Pamela satellite.

The astronomers say that a small number of anti-protons lie between the Van Allen belts of trapped "normal" matter.

The new analysis shows that when Pamela passes through a region called the South Atlantic Anomaly, it sees thousands of times more anti-protons than are expected to come from normal particle decays, or from elsewhere in the cosmos.

The bands were found to be located several hundred kilometers from the Earth's surface in the region overlapped by low earth orbit (LEO). The antiproton deposits spotted by PAMELA were three orders of magnitude (>1,000 times) higher than that typically seen in this region of space, evidence of a trapping effect.

The antimatter is a few hundred miles up, in a ring near one of Earth’s Van Allen belts, which collect charged particles created or trapped by the planet’s magnetic field.

In an interview with the BBC, University of Bari (Italy) professor Alessandro Bruno, the paper's eleventh author said that "The band is the most abundant source of antiprotons near the Earth.

PAMELA was built by Russia, Italy, Germany, and Sweden and launched aboard Russia's RESURS-DK1 satellite in 2006. The 470 kg, 335-watt instrument cost around $32M USD to build.

Proton - With a +1 charge Proton is a key constituent to most of the matter of the universe.

Anti Proton – Antimatter Particle that is Anti proton carries a -1 charge.

What is Anti Matter?

The antiproton was first predicted by luminary physicist Paul Dirac in his 1933 Nobel Prize lecture.

In 1955 Emilio Segrè and Owen Chamberlain, research professors at the University of California, Berkley, created an antiproton in the lab.
The discovery earned the pair a Nobel Prize in Physics.

The antimatter particles are antiprotons opposites of regular protons
Antimatter has similar properties to regular matter, just with opposite charge and spin

When protons and antiprotons come in close proximity with each other, they eliminate each other, converting to radiation (energy).
But occasionally the antiproton survives, by separating from its sister particle and avoiding protons.
Such events fill the reaches of space with low levels of antimatter.

Physicists knew that as antiprotons are charged they can be trapped by strong magnetic field.
Now the next question was earth has a large and strong magnetic field so could it trap antimatter?

Now Pamela has given the answer to this, now it is confirmed that antimatter is trapped by the earth’s magnetic field.

Antiprotons will be useful for space ships; they can be used in special cancer treatments.

Now we know the location where they are stored now next step will be how to get them.

How to reach those antiprotons and bring them on earth.

Then the third question will arise how to storea them for long time.
The longest time that scientists have been able to contain antimatter is about 17 minutes.

When the antiproton comes in contact with that matter, it annihilates it.

Now human race will start to go where never no man has gone before.

The finding study will be published in Astrophysical Journal Letters
abstract print - http://arxiv.org/abs/1107.4882

Reality views by sm –
Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Tags- Antimatter Antiproton Pamela


Urmi August 09, 2011  

Wonderful as well as interesting post.

Anonymous,  August 09, 2011  

interesting article....

virendra sharma August 09, 2011  

Important post useful for students of Particle Physics.Thanks Sm for the same .

sm,  August 09, 2011  

Elisabeth Hirsch, thanks.
Babli,thanks. Krishna,thanks.Veerubhai,thanks.

Kirtivasan Ganesan August 09, 2011  

Yeah somewhat good discovery. More needs to be done. In India such discovery means a lot.

Buy Domain India August 09, 2011  

It is a great news for me. It is another discovery. This post is very much useful for me. Thanks for sharing.

Amrit August 09, 2011  

I could never understand antimatter. May be you can write a short article just explaining it for laymen...

sm,  August 10, 2011  

I will try to write on this as topic.