Dark matter, dark energy, antimatter, gravitational waves... Space can teach us a lot about the origin of the universe, what it is made of and how it works. As the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, CERN can benefit from and contribute to the study of space phenomena, including cosmic rays, which are part of CERN’s scientific mission.

Many of the overlapping technological requirements and solutions highlighted in this brochure show the proximity between particle physics and multi-messenger astrophysics – the study of astroparticles and electromagnetic and gravitational signals coming from deep space. Often performed in-orbit to avoid atmospheric effects, astrophysics experiments can benefit from CERN technologies, facilities and know-how.

The following space scientific missions have the status of CERN Recognised Experiment (REC).

There are several other space scientific missions that have received CERN support without a formal REC status (for instance EUSO, Nucleon, HERD and HNX).

Current CERN Recognised Experiments

FERMI (2008-present): a space telescope to study the most extreme phenomena of the universe, from gamma-ray bursts and black-hole jets to pulsars and supernova remnants.

AMS-02 (2011-present): a state-of-the-art particle detector operating as an external module on the International Space Station. It studies the universe and its origin by searching for antimatter and dark matter, while also performing precision measurements of cosmic rays’ composition and flux.

CALET (2015-present): a calorimetric electron telescope to search for signatures of dark matter and provide the highest energy direct measurements of the cosmic ray electron spectrum.

DAMPE (2015-present): a space telescope used for the detection of high energy gamma rays, electrons and cosmic ray ions, to aid in the search for dark matter.

Future CERN Recognised Experiments

EUCLID (planned 2022): a mission aimed at understanding why the expansion of the universe is accelerating and what is the nature of the source responsible for this acceleration.

POLAR-2 (planned 2024): a project aimed to answer the most important open questions regarding the nature of gamma-ray bursts.

Past CERN Recognised Experiments

PAMELA (2006-2016): the first satellite-based experiment dedicated to the detection of cosmic rays.

PLANCK (2009-2013): the first European mission dedicated to study the Cosmic Microwave Background, the relic radiation from the Big Bang, with unprecedented detail.