Genesis (spacecraft)

The Genesis spacecraft ( named after the first book of the Bible ) is a NASA mission to study the solar wind, with a Delta II rocket lifted off from Earth on August 8, 2001. It reached its final position, the L1 Lagrange point of the Sun-Earth system, in November 2001.

Board instruments

On board were four instruments of the probe:

  • Three high-purity collector arrays, which consist among other things of gold, sapphire, silicon and diamond. Between 3 December 2001 and 1 April 2004, they started on the particles of the solar wind. In this case, each of these arrays were exposed to one of three different solar wind regimes. These arrays were returned in a sample capsule to Earth, however they were damaged and contaminated by the unmitigated impact.
  • An ion detector, which determines the velocity, density, temperature, and approximate composition of the ionic component.
  • An electronic monitor, which determines the energy and density of the electrons.
  • A Ionenkonzentrator that filters elements such as oxygen and nitrogen, and directed to a special collector.

Mission History

After exposure of the capsule with the samples the Genesis probe mother was brought anticipatory orbit around the sun in one of the earth.

On 8 September 2004 the capsule crashed to the collectors in the desert from Salt Lake City to the ground, without the parachutes had opened. A helicopter would have the sample container in the air absorb and to bring you safely to the earth.

The sample capsule struck near a base for the U.S. Army (Utah Test and Training Range), thus could emergency personnel investigate the capsule quickly. The collectors, which contained captured solar wind, have been destroyed or are likely contaminated by the Earth's atmosphere and dust, as the hermetic sealing of the capsule was no longer present after the impact.

Research results

According to official NASA opinion parts of the panels have remained intact. The excavated remains of the container panels were tested in a clean room with various methods to purify contaminated by earthly dust collectors. To be problematic this proves the small amount ( 3-4 micrograms) and penetration depth of the trapped solar particles.

The penetration depth is typically only 10 nanometers. Nevertheless, even particles of the solar wind could be clearly isolated, because the pollution affects only the surface. 15,000 fragments were recovered. Measure your size at least 3 mm and only a few centimeters after all. To investigate, they went to 16 laboratories.

The atoms of the sun could now (June 2011) are separated from the earthly impurities and prove that the sun - like the gas planets - a distinctly different isotopic distribution than the inner planets.

Accident investigation

To elucidate the failure of the landing parachutes, was set up immediately by NASA a commission of inquiry. Their results affect safety considerations, the similarly designed Stardust mission and the planning of future " sample return" missions. First indications pointed to a technical failure of the control mechanisms of the probe. The preliminary result of the inquiry commission pointed to a design flaw of the accelerometers that have been incorrectly installed. With the completion of the investigation, almost two years after the crash, this assumption has been confirmed: a sensor for measuring the acceleration of gravity, which should trigger the brake shields, had been in the wrong way. Because of the time constraints in the construction of the 260 -million-dollar probe the manufacturer Lockheed Martin had no need for a comprehensive test in which this would be noticed, and been content with a simpler.