Genesis Mission Status Update
5 Jun 2003
(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
The Genesis spacecraft continues its mission collecting solar wind material expelled from the Sun. Telemetry from the Genesis spacecraft indicates that all spacecraft subsystems are reporting nominal operation.
The solar wind has been unusually "windy" the past week or so. It is Genesis' ion and electron monitors job to keep a close "eye" on these winds. On three occasions the monitors detected solar wind speeds that reached a level where the spacecraft's main computer will order the concentrator to "standby mode 3". In this mode the concentrator voltages are essentially turned down to zero until the high solar winds subside. This is done to protect the integrity of the solar samples. The high solar winds did not impact operational integrity of the spacecraft.
Genesis' sample return capsule battery temperature is still below predicts, at about 50°C. While the temperature is expected to increase as the spacecraft moves towards perihelion, the Genesis team is confident it will remain well within operational parameters for the remainder of the mission.
On May 31 the spacecraft had a concentrator reset. A reset occurs when voltage running through the fine wires forming a rejection grid in the front of the spacecraft's sample concentrator sags below the intended voltage. The grid carries a positive charge in order to deflect hydrogen ions while allowing heavier oxygen ions to pass through. That concentrates oxygen, in proportion to hydrogen, reaching a collector tile. The spacecraft's systems successfully returned the voltage to its desired level within an hour.
Recent solar activity has called for the "high solar speed" collector array to be deployed 41% of the time, and the E-Array, which handles coronal mass ejections, for the remaining 59%. There are three collector arrays aboard Genesis that are exposed to, or hidden from, the solar wind dependant on the wind regime encountered. Which collector array is exposed is determined by the data received by sensitive ion and electron monitors located on the spacecraft's equipment deck. These monitors scrutinize the solar wind passing by the spacecraft and relay this information to the onboard computer, which in turn commands the collector arrays to deploy and retract as needed.
Genesis Vital Statistics:
668 days since launch.
302 days to planned completion of solar particle collection.
459 days to Genesis return to Earth.