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ATLAS (www.atlas.ch) is a particle physics experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. The ATLAS detector is searching for new discoveries in the head-on collisions of protons of extraordinarily high energy. ATLAS will learn about the basic forces that have shaped our Universe since the beginning of time and that will determine its fate. Among the possible unknowns are the origin of mass, extra dimensions of space, unification of fundamental forces, and evidence for dark matter candidates in the Universe.
CMS (http://cms.web.cern.ch/cms/) is a high-energy physics experiment in Cessy, France, part of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. CMS is designed to see a wide range of particles and phenomena produced in high-energy collisions in the LHC. Like a cylindrical onion, different layers of detector stop and measure the different particles, and use this key data to build up a picture of events at the heart of the collision. Scientists then use this data to search for new phenomena that will help to answer questions such as: What is the Universe really made of and what forces act within it? And what gives everything substance? CMS will also measure the properties of previously discovered particles with unprecedented precision, and be on the lookout for completely new, unpredicted phenomena.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a particle accelerator used by physicists to study the smallest known particles – the fundamental building blocks of all things. It will revolutionise our understanding, from the minuscule world deep within atoms to the vastness of the Universe. Two beams of subatomic particles called 'hadrons' – either protons or lead ions – will travel in opposite directions inside the circular accelerator, gaining energy with every lap. Physicists will use the LHC to recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang, by colliding the two beams head-on at very high energy. Teams of physicists from around the world will analyse the particles created in the collisions using special detectors in a number of experiments dedicated to the LHC.
Gaia (http://www.esa.int/science/gaia) is an ambitious ESA mission to chart a three-dimensional map of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, in the process revealing the composition, formation and evolution of the Galaxy. Gaia will provide unprecedented positional and radial velocity measurements with the accuracies needed to produce a stereoscopic and kinematic census of about one billion stars in our Galaxy and throughout the Local Group. This amounts to about 1 per cent of the Galactic stellar population. Combined with astrophysical information for each star, provided by on-board multi-colour photometry, these data will have the precision necessary to quantify the early formation, and subsequent dynamical, chemical and star formation evolution of the Milky Way Galaxy.
The Faulkes Telescope Project (http://www.faulkes-telescope.com/) offers access to two 2-metre telescopes, one in Hawaii and the other in Australia. FTP is a partner of the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network, which operates a network of research class robotic telescopes. These telescopes (and their data archives) are available to schools and other educational groups, to use as part of their curricular or extra-curricular activities. The FTP education programme is fully supported by a range of free online materials, and a team of educators and professional astronomers.
The Liverpool Telescope, http://telescope.livjm.ac.uk, is a fully robotic astronomical telescope (located on the Canary Island of La Palma) owned and operated by the Astrophysics Research Institute of Liverpool John Moores University in north west England. It was designed and built by Telescope Technologies Limited, a spin-off company of the University, as the prototype of their production-line range of two-metre class telescopes. The LT was therefore the "first off the line". The telescope itself is a two-metre Cassegrain reflector, with Ritchey-Cretien hyperbolic optics, on an altazimuth mount. Up to nine different instruments can be mounted at the Cassegrain focus, one in the "straight through" position and eight more on side ports accessible by a rotating "science fold" tertiary mirror.