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The PAMELA experiment represents one of the most important steps of an extensive space program dedicated to antimatter detection in space, to research of dark matter signals, to the study of the nuclear and isotopic components of cosmic rays, to monitoring solar activity, to measuring o the radiation environment on board Space Stations and to examining radia tion effects on the central nervous system of astronauts. The whole program is carried out by the WiZard collaboration together with Russian partners, and makes use of stratospheric balloon-borne, satellite and Space Station missions. This collaboration, gathered around Prof. Robert Golden who first discovered antiprotons in space, was born for a program of antimatter research, to be carried out with the Astromag facility in the Freedom Space Station, planned at that time.

CAPRICE 94 flight from Fort Sumner

Many balloon-borne experiments have been performed by the WiZard collaboration between 89 and 98 years, utilizing typical detectors of elementary particle physics. MASS 89, MASS 91, TS93, CAPRICE 94 and CAPRICE 98 have provided important results on the antiparticle-particle ratio and on the energy spectr a from 1 GeV to 50 GeV for antiprotons, and from 500 MeV to 20 GeV for positrons. Also relevant have been the measurements of primary proton and helium spectra, and those of positive and negative muon fluxes at different atmospheric depths, important for solving the atmospheric neutrino puzzle.

NINA telescope

PAMELA is a part of the Russian-Italian Mission (RIM) research program. The first step (RIM-0.1, RIM-0.2 and RIM 03) comprises the SilEye 1-2 experiments, performed on board of the Russian MIR Station in the years 95-2000, and the SilEye3/Alteino put on board on the International Space Station in April 2002 and currently running. The SilEye main detectors consisted of silicon sensors able to study the radiation environment inside the Space Stations and the nature of particles producing the "light flashes" seen by astronauts in darkness conditions.
The RIM-1 mission studied SEP particles and low energy solar and galactic cosmic rays. The mission was organized in two steps: the first experiment NINA, making use of a 32 silicon detector planes telescope, has flown as a "piggy back" of the Resurs 01 n.4 Russian satellite in the years 1998-1999, and the second experiment, NINA-2, similar to NINA, put in orbit in July 2000 on board of the Italian satellite MITA ran during the years 2000-2001. The RIM-2 mission is PAMELA.

Sergej Avdeev on the MIR
 

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Edited by Vincenzo Buttaro