Japanese team preps space scope for 2014 search for dark matter


Japanese scientists are set to launch a specially developed telescope into space next year to look for signs of the elusive substance known as dark matter.

The hunt for dark matter, which is believed to make up about a quarter of the universe, took a major step forward when an international team of scientists led by U.S. Nobel physics laureate Samuel Ting recently reported the results of their first search for it.

The results, from observations made by the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on the International Space Station, suggested the observed excess of positrons in the cosmic ray flux could be signs of dark matter.

A team of Japanese researchers from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Waseda University, Kanagawa University and other schools and scientific institutions is preparing to launch the Calorimetric Electron Telescope (Calet), in summer 2014.

The telescope, which can capture high-energy electrons and gamma rays, will be sent to the ISS via JAXA’s unmanned Kounotori cargo transfer vehicle.