Although our daily appreciation of the sky around us does not allow us to see them with the naked eye, every second our planet is bombarded by an infinite number of subatomic particles from outer space called cosmic rays. They come from several sources, the Sun, the other stars and a number of energetic phenomena… a violent “universe”, mostly still unknown, that allows us to have a glimpse of its mysteries through them. Tiny messengers, capsules of information that scientists seek out to study the nature of a universe, yet to be understood.
Cosmic rays can have energies so high that no particle accelerator is able to reproduce on Earth. For this reason researchers have to convert the atmosphere into a giant detector, into a laboratory which hunts down these particles to steal their secrets from them.
The spearhead research into cosmic radiation is the JEM EUSO project, an international scientific project that will set a telescope orbiting our planet aboard the International Space Station. This experiment will observe the Earth's atmosphere and the phenomena that occur in it when cosmic rays of higher energy collide with air molecules. Scientists use this information to model the most enigmatic space phenomena and to understand the origin of the universe. A special “window” on the universe to confirm existing theories or putting forward new and exotic scenarios still unknown to us.