Device on Shuttle to Investigate Radiation Shield Discovery

A particle detector being prepared for launch Friday aboard space shuttle Endeavour is intended to answer some fundamental questions about physics, but it has a practical side as well — testing a way to shield future astronauts from potentially harmful cosmic rays.
At the heart of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, or AMS, is a 2-ton magnet that will bend high-energy particles into five detectors for analysis. Scientists hope to learn about dark matter, antimatter and other exotic phenomenon, but engineers at NASA who are developing next-generation spaceships are keen to learn how similar magnets could be used not to attract particles, but to repel them.
A magnetic shield would replicate the protective cocoon of Earth”s naturally occurring magnetic field, which helps protect the planet from harmful radiation.