Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genesis Spacecraft Begins Mission To Collect Samples Of The Sun

Date:
December 4, 2001
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
NASA's Genesis mission is officially open for business today, as it extends its special collector arrays to catch atoms from the solar wind. The atoms it collects, believed to have been part of the solar nebula "cloud" from which our solar system developed, will help scientists gain a better understanding of the conditions in the distant past before Earth and other planets formed.

NASA's Genesis mission is officially open for business today, as it extends its special collector arrays to catch atoms from the solar wind. The atoms it collects, believed to have been part of the solar nebula "cloud" from which our solar system developed, will help scientists gain a better understanding of the conditions in the distant past before Earth and other planets formed.

Related Articles


Genesis, managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., is the agency's first sample return mission since the last Apollo mission in 1972, and the first ever to return material collected beyond the Moon.

Genesis orbits a point in space, about 1 million miles from Earth in the direction of the Sun, where the gravities of Earth and the Sun balance. The spacecraft first opened its outer shell, then last Friday opened its inner science canister to reveal collector arrays. Today, these arrays fanned out like petals to catch heavier atoms of the solar wind.

"We expect to start getting particle hits right away," said Dr. Donald Burnett, Genesis principal investigator, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "Now we've gotten to the real focus of the mission: the start of science, leading to the return in 2004 and the analysis phase of the mission."

This treasured smidgen of the Sun will be preserved in a special laboratory at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, for study by scientists over the next century. It will help scientists understand the composition of the original solar nebula that formed the planets, asteroids, comets and the Sun we know today.

Sample collection will conclude in April 2004, when the spacecraft begins its return to Earth. In September of that year, the samples will arrive on Earth in a dramatic helicopter capture. As the sample-return capsule parachutes toward the ground at the Utah Testing and Training Range of the U.S. Air Force, specially trained helicopter pilots will catch the capsule in midair to prevent the delicate samples from being disturbed by the impact of a landing.

Scientists say that the surface of the Sun, from which the solar wind originates, has preserved the composition of the era when the solar system formed. Study of Genesis' samples will yield the average composition of the solar system to greater accuracy. It will also give clues about the process that led to the incredible diversity of environments in today's solar system.

Genesis carries four instruments: bicycle-tire-sized solar-wind collector arrays, made of materials such as diamond, gold, silicon and sapphire, and designed to entrap solar wind particles; an ion monitor, to record the speed, density, temperature and approximate composition of the solar wind ions; an electron monitor, to make similar measurements of electrons in the solar wind; and an ion concentrator, to separate and focus elements like oxygen and nitrogen in the solar wind into a special collector tile.

The ion and electron monitors were turned on several months ago in preparation for their role during solar-wind collection. The monitors communicate with Earth frequently and will give periodic solar-wind weather reports. "It has been exciting watching the space weather so far," said Dr. Roger Wiens of Los Alamos National Laboratory, N.M., head of the team that operates the instruments. "We've had a rather stormy autumn in space, which has been great for checking out our instruments."

JPL, a division of Caltech, manages the mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, Colo., designed and built the spacecraft and operates it jointly with JPL. Major portions of the payload design and fabrication were carried out at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and at Johnson Space Center.

More information is available on the web at: http://genesismission.jpl.nasa.gov .


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Genesis Spacecraft Begins Mission To Collect Samples Of The Sun." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 December 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/12/011204073356.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2001, December 4). Genesis Spacecraft Begins Mission To Collect Samples Of The Sun. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/12/011204073356.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Genesis Spacecraft Begins Mission To Collect Samples Of The Sun." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/12/011204073356.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said that NORAD is ready to track Santa Claus as he delivers gifts next week. Speaking tongue-in-cheek, he said if Santa drops anything off his sleigh, "we've got destroyers out there to pick them up." (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's Planet-Finding Kepler Mission Isn't Over After All

NASA's Planet-Finding Kepler Mission Isn't Over After All

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) More than a year after NASA declared the Kepler spacecraft broken beyond repair, scientists have figured out how to continue getting useful data. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Evidence of Life on Mars? NASA Rover Finds Methane, Organic Chemicals

Evidence of Life on Mars? NASA Rover Finds Methane, Organic Chemicals

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 16, 2014) NASA's Mars Curiosity rover finds methane in the Martian atmosphere and organic chemicals in the planet's soil, the latest hint that Mars was once suitable for microbial life. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins