Shuttle prepares to leave for Earth

The six crew members now face two days of travel before NASA's second-to-last manned shuttle mission arrives back on the planet.It's the last such voyage for Endeavor, however—the space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to liftoff on NASA's final crewed shuttle voyage on July 8.

The parting goodbyes between the ISS crew and the six members of the Endeavor crew–led by shuttle commander Mark Kelly–took place around 7 a m EDT today, terminating around 11 total days of connection between the two spacecraft.
Kelly was the final crew member to walk—er, float—off the ISS.

"We're looking forward to getting home," Kelly said, "and we're going to leave these guys to some peace and quiet and not disturb their space station any more".
In total, the Endeavor crew has been on four spacewalks and has performed a series of equipment installations as part of Endeavor's final mission.

The astronauts delivered a USD two-billion cosmic ray detector to the International Space Station -– the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 –- whose 15,251 pounds of magnets and detectors are designed to assist researchers in searching for "unusual" types of matter. According to reports, the cosmic ray detector is already collecting anywhere from 25 to 40 million particles daily for further analysis back on Earth.

Scientists hope to be able to broaden their understanding on the origins of the universe itself through this exhaustive search for antimatter and dark matter.

Also, by measuring the cosmic ray environment–at a rate of 7 Gigabits of dataper second–scientists should be able to better equip a future flight to Mars with effective countermeasures against cosmic radiation.

"Using sophisticated filtration and compression techniques, the advanced 600 computerprocessors located on AMS-02 are able to reduce the amount of data down by a factor of 3000," reads the fact sheet for the AMS-02.

"This data is sent from the ISS to the ground where researchers around the globe will compile and analyse data".

The crew of the space shuttle Endeavor is expected to land at Florida's Kennedy Space Center on June 1 at 2:35 am.

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