SPS North Area

CERN is capable of replicating the actual galactic cosmic ray spectrum to test electronics before they take a trip into space. Unlike standard facilities, the SPS North Area can operate with ultra-high energy heavy ions. These particle beams allow in-depth testing of space components in air and without opening the package (decapsulation).

Many test campaigns have been organised in collaboration with ESA in the SPS North Area, using xenon and lead ions. Launched into space on ESA’s PhiSat-1 in 2020, Myriad-2, Intel’s new artificial intelligence chip for Earth observation, was first tested at CERN in 2018.

The SPS North Area is also used to calibrate scientific instruments for astroparticle physics in space from the iconic AMS-02 to future missions like the High Energy Cosmic-Radiation Detection (HERD), an experiment focused on indirect dark matter search, cosmic ray physics and gamma ray astronomy for China’s future space station.

Learn more about CERN ground facilities here.