Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA Spacecraft Locks The Vault On Its Sapphire, Diamond Payload

Date:
April 7, 2004
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
Since October 2001 NASA's Genesis spacecraft has exposed specially designed, collector arrays of sapphire, silicon, gold and diamond to the sun's solar wind.

This artist's conception shows the Genesis spacecraft in collection mode, opened up to collect and store samples of solar wind particles.
Credit: Image courtesy NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Since October 2001 NASA's Genesis spacecraft has exposed specially designed, collector arrays of sapphire, silicon, gold and diamond to the sun's solar wind.

Related Articles


That collection of pristine particles of the sun came to an end last week, when NASA's Genesis team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., ordered the spacecraft's collectors deactivated and stowed. The closeout process was completed when Genesis closed and sealed the spacecraft's sample-return capsule.

"This is a momentous step," said Genesis project manager Don Sweetnam. "We have concluded the solar-wind collection phase of the mission. Now we are focusing on returning to Earth, this September, NASA's first samples from space since Apollo 17 back in December 1972," he said.

NASA's Genesis mission was launched in August 2001 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Three months and about one million miles later, the spacecraft began to amass solar wind particles on hexagonal wafer-shaped collectors made of pure silicon, gold, sapphire and diamond.

"The material our collector arrays are made of may sound exotic, but what is really unique about Genesis is what we collected on them," said mission principal investigator Don Burnett. "With Genesis we have almost 27 months far beyond the moon's orbit collecting atoms from the sun. With data from this mission, we should be able to say what the sun is composed of at a level of precision for planetary science purposes that has never been seen before."

To get Genesis' precious cargo into the sterilized-gloved hands of Burnett and solar scientists around the world is an exotic endeavor in itself.

Later this month, Genesis will execute the first in a series of trajectory maneuvers that will place the spacecraft on a route toward Earth. On Sept. 8, 2004, the spacecraft will dispatch a sample-return capsule containing its solar booty. The capsule will re-enter Earth's atmosphere for a planned landing at the U.S. Air Force Utah Test and Training Range at about 9:15 a.m. EDT.

To preserve the delicate particles of the sun in their prisons of gold, sapphire and diamond, specially trained helicopter pilots will snag the return capsule from mid-air using giant hooks. The flight crews for the two helicopters assigned for the capture and return of Genesis are former military aviators, Hollywood stunt pilots and an active-duty Air Force test pilot.

For information about NASA and agency missions on the Internet, visit: http://www.nasa.gov

For information about Genesis on the Internet, visit: http://genesismission.jpl.nasa.gov/

For information about the capture-and-return process on the Internet, visit: http://www.genesismission.org/mission/recgallery.html


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. "NASA Spacecraft Locks The Vault On Its Sapphire, Diamond Payload." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 April 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/04/040407082556.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2004, April 7). NASA Spacecraft Locks The Vault On Its Sapphire, Diamond Payload. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 4, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/04/040407082556.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "NASA Spacecraft Locks The Vault On Its Sapphire, Diamond Payload." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/04/040407082556.htm (accessed March 4, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: SpaceX Launches Rocket, Satellites on Board

Raw: SpaceX Launches Rocket, Satellites on Board

AP (Mar. 2, 2015) — SpaceX launched it&apos;s 16th Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Sunday night. The rocket was carrying two commercial communications satellites. (March 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA EDGE: SMAP Launch

NASA EDGE: SMAP Launch

NASA (Mar. 2, 2015) — Join NASA EDGE as they cover the launch of the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) spacecraft live from Vandenberg Air Force Base.  Special guests include NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, SMAP Project System Engineer Shawn Goodman and Lt Col Brande Walton and Joseph Sims from the Air Force.  No word on the Co-Host&apos;s whereabouts. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Astronauts Leave Space Station for Third Spacewalk

Astronauts Leave Space Station for Third Spacewalk

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 1, 2015) — NASA Commander Barry Wilmore and Flight Engineer Terry Virts perform their third spacewalk in eight days outside the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spacesuit Water Leaks Not An Issue On Latest ISS Walk

Spacesuit Water Leaks Not An Issue On Latest ISS Walk

Newsy (Mar. 1, 2015) — Astronauts are ahead of schedule with hardware upgrades to the International Space Station, despite last week&apos;s spacesuit water leak scare. Video provided by Newsy
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