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Astronauts Take Second Spacewalk to Fix Dark Matter Experiment

NASA astronaut Drew Morgan and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Luca Parmitano are conducting a second spacewalk to repair the space station’s AMS. (Photo Credit: NASA / Twitter)

Astronauts Luca Parmitano and Drew Morgan are walking outside the International Space Station (ISS) again to repair a cosmic ray detector.

Earlier this morning, the duo started their 6.5-hour spacewalk, marking the tenth spacewalk of the year, CBS News reported. You can watch the astronauts work on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer’s (AMS) coolant system via NASA TV.

The AMS, which weighs 7.5 tons, is located on the side of the orbiting laboratory and has been hunting for dark matter since 2011, Space.com noted. During last week’s spacewalk, Parmitano and Morgan extracted a debris shield from the device, placed handrails, and set up tasks required for the second trip outside the space station.

“We’re going to perform what could be considered open-heart surgery on this amazing experiment,” Parmitano said before the Nov. 15 EVA, as reported by Space.com. “It’s a combination of things that makes this EVA so challenging. You have certainly an access problem … AMS is in a remote area without handles or locations to hold onto, because it was not made to be repaired [on] EVA.”

Today’s outing will build on the progress above and prepare power and data cables for an incoming coolant pump module. A third spacewalk, which is scheduled for Dec. 2, will involve attaching the new pump module and modifying new coolant lines. The fourth spacewalk doesn’t have a set date yet, but it will wrap up this work and take note of follow-up procedures that may be needed for the AMS.

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