Skip main navigation

How can we detect dark matter

Although we know now that dark matter exists, but how do we detect it?
© Redd, N. T. (July 19, 2019). “What is Dark Matter?”. Retrieved from

Previously, we have discussed the three main evidences of the existence of dark matter and some of the possible candidates for dark matter. However, considerable effort is still needed to unravel its true nature.

Current Experiments for Dark Matter Detection

Many telescopes and observatories have been established for the purpose of detecting dark matter, but we will only cite a few of them in this article.

First is the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), which is an experiment module mounted at the International Space Station (ISS) in 2011 to focus on particle physics, primarily in shedding light to the origins of the Universe and the detection of dark matter. By collecting antimatter (a substance that causes the destruction of its counterpart matter) from the cosmic rays (high-energy photons produced by very energetic processes in space) in the Universe, they can get some hint on what dark matter is. AMS is still operating and collecting more data until now.

The video below, courtesy of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, shows Nobel Laureate Samuel Ting, the principal investigator of AMS, explaining how AMS works.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Another experiment for dark matter detection is the IceCube Neutrino Observatory located at Antarctica. Recall that one of the candidates for dark matter is weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPS). If WIMPS collide and annihilate each other, they may produce neutrinos (look at Step 2-11: Future Prospects in Astronomy Research for a short explanation of neutrinos). Therefore, IceCube Neutrino Observatory is expected to indirectly observe dark matter through the products of its interactions.

© Redd, N. T. (July 19, 2019). “What is Dark Matter?”. Retrieved from
This article is from the free online

Mysteries Of The Universe

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now