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Genesis' Final Lap
Genesis' Final Lap
5 May 2004
(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

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?? Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

?? STATUS REPORT: 2004-118?
???????????????????? May 5, 2004

?? NASA GENESIS SPACECRAFT ON FINAL LAP TOWARD HOME

?? NASA's Genesis spacecraft flew past Earth on Saturday in a ?? loop that puts it on track for home - and a dramatic mid-air ?? recovery Sept. 8.

?? The Genesis mission was launched in August of 2001 to capture ?? samples from the storehouse of 99-percent of all the material ?? in our solar system ? the Sun. The samples of solar wind ?? particles, collected on ultra-pure wafers of gold, sapphire, ?? silicon and diamond, will be returned for analysis by Earth- ?? bound scientists. The samples Genesis will provide will ?? supply scientists with vital information on the composition ?? of the Sun, and will shed light on the origins of our solar ?? system.

?? "Genesis has been way out there collecting samples from space ?? for a long time," said Genesis project manager Don Sweetnam ?? of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. ?? "Saturday, we brushed past Earth just beyond the Moon's ?? orbit. On September 6, we will again approach Earth at lunar ?? distance, but this time we are going to come on in carrying ?? NASA's first samples from space since Apollo 17 carried the ?? last moon rocks back in December of 1972."

?? The Earth flyby occurred at about 3:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight ?? Time on Saturday, May 1, at an altitude of 386,000 kilometers ?? (239,850 miles) above the planet's surface ? just beyond the ?? Moon's orbit. At that time, the spacecraft was traveling at a ?? speed relative to Earth of 1.26 kilometers per second (2,800 ?? miles per hour).

?? Helicopter flight crews, navigators and mission engineers are ?? preparing for the return of the spacecraft.? The will ?? dispatch a sample return capsule that will re-enter Earth's ?? atmosphere for a planned mid-air capture at the U.S. Air ?? Force Utah Test and Training Range on Sept. 8. To preserve ?? the delicate particles of the Sun, specially trained ?? helicopter pilots will snag the return capsule from mid-air ?? using custom-designed hooks. The flight crews for the two ?? helicopters assigned for Genesis capture and return are ?? comprised of former military aviators and Hollywood stunt ?? pilots.

?? JPL manages the Genesis mission for NASA's Office of Space ?? Science, Washington, D.C.? Lockheed Martin Space Systems, ?? Denver, developed and operates the spacecraft.? JPL is a ?? division of the California Institute of Technology, the home ?? institute of Genesis's principal investigator Dr. Don ?? Burnett.? More information about Genesis is available at ?? www.jpl.nasa.gov/genesis

?? More information about the actual capture and return process ?? is available at ?? http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/genesis/mission/recgallery.html

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Last Updated: 6 May 2004