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  Return Phase

Artist rendering of capsule reentry (small)
Artist rendering of capsule reentry

On April 22, 2004, Genesis began its journey back toward its home planet. This was initiated by the first of five planned thruster firings during the mission's return phase designed to fine-tune the spacecraft's flight path for Earth return.

Because of the position of the landing site — the U.S. Air Force's Utah Testing & Training Range — and the unique geometry of Genesis' flight path, the spacecraft could not make a direct approach and still make a daytime landing. In order to allow the Genesis helicopter crews an opportunity to capture the return capsule in daylight, Genesis mission navigators designed an orbital detour toward another Lagrange point, L2, located on the other side of Earth from the Sun. After completing one loop around this point in space, the spacecraft will be set up for a daytime return to Earth on Sept. 8. button
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Curator: Aimee Meyer
Updated: November 2009

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