8 Sep 2004
(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
Sept. 8, 2004
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
GENESIS MISSION STATUS REPORT
The Genesis sample return capsule entered Earth's atmosphere at 9:52:47 MDT and entered the preplanned entry ellipse in the Utah Test and Training Range as predicted. However, the Genesis capsule, as a result of its parachute not deploying, impacted the ground at a speed of 311 kilometers per hour (193 mph). The impact occurred near Granite Peak on a remote portion of the range. No people or structures were anywhere near the area.
"We have the capsule," said Genesis project manager Don Sweetnam of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "It is on the ground. We have previously written procedures and tools at our disposal for such an event. We are beginning capsule recovery operations at this time."
By the time the capsule entered Earth's atmosphere, the flight crews tasked to capture Genesis were already in the air. Once it was confirmed the capsule touched down out on the range, the flight crews were guided toward the site to initiate a previously developed contingency plan. They landed close to the capsule and per the plan, began to document the capsule and the area.
"For the velocity of the impact, I thought there was surprisingly little damage, said Roy Haggard of Vertigo Inc., Lake Elsinore, Calif., who took part in the initial reconnaissance of the capsule. "I observed the capsule penetrated the soil about 50 percent of its diameter. The shell had been breached about three inches and I could see the science canister inside and that also appeared to have a small breach," he said.
The safety of recovery personnel has been the top priority. The capsule's separation charge had to be confirmed safe before the capsule could be moved. The recovery team is in the process of preparing to move the capsule to a clean room. The Genesis mission was launched in August 2001 on a journey 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 were designed to be returned for analysis by Earth-bound scientists.
JPL manages the Genesis mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, developed and operated the spacecraft. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology.
For more information about Genesis on the Internet, visit http://genesismission.jpl.nasa.gov/
Glenn Mahone/Bob Jacobs
Sept. 8, 2004
NASA ADMINISTRATOR SAYS EXPLORATION IS DIFFICULT BUT ESSENTIAL
The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe regarding today's Genesis Sample Return Mission at the U.S. Air Force Test and Training Range, Dugway Proving Ground, southwest of Salt Lake City.
"We're encouraged by the news out of Utah, despite the hard impact landing of the Genesis Sample Return capsule. The spacecraft was designed in a way to give us the best chance at salvaging the valuable science payload should we suffer a landing like the one we witnessed today.
"Our re-entry plan was based on safety, and the choice of Dugway was intentional. While today's developments may be disappointing to some, I know the entire NASA family is thankful no one was injured.
"Exploration of the heavens is not an easy task. Our ability to travel throughout our solar system is limited, whether by human tended or robotic craft. Genesis was an experiment to journey far from home and return with new clues and possible answers to some of the fundamental questions regarding the origin of our universe.
"With each new mission, we push the frontiers of our knowledge and technology, and we're hopeful that what appears to be a setback, will eventually return some impressive results. After all, this isn't an Olympic event where we're awarded a medal for a perfect landing. Our final achievement will be measured by what we've learned over the entire three- year mission.
"Our scientists and engineers across NASA and our Jet Propulsion Laboratory are the best in the world. We will find out what happened to Genesis, and we'll continue our quest to accomplish the goals spelled out in our Vision for Space Exploration."
For information about the Genesis Sample Return Mission on the Internet, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/genesis