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Fast Facts


  • To obtain precise measure of solar isotopic abundances. Genesis will measure isotopic compositions of oxygen, nitrogen, and noble gases. These data will enable scientists to better understand the isotopic variations in meteorites, comets, lunar samples, and planetary atmospheres.
  • To obtain greatly improved measures of solar elemental abundances.
  • To provide a reservoir of solar matter for 21st century science research, eliminating the need for future solar wind sample return missions.


The Genesis mission is the:

  • First sample return of the new millennium.
  • First to use bulk metallic glass as collector material.
  • First mission to return from L-1.
  • First to use a mid-air recovery for a sample return.
  • First NASA mission to develop a class 10 cleanroom (only 10 particles of contaminant per cubic meter).
  • First mission to study solar wind in exceptionally accurate analytical mass spectrometer laboratories.
  • First mission to partner with education research laboratory (McREL) to provide education and public outreach for a mission.


National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Washington, D.C.
Genesis is one of NASA's Discovery Program missions.


Project Manager
Don Sweetnam, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA

Project Scientist and Principal Investigator
Dr. Donald (Don) Burnett, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company-Astronautics Operations (LMAO), Denver, CO. LMAO is the industrial partner, develops the carrier spacecraft and the sample return capsule, puts the components together, and tests the entire flight system. Lloyd Oldham served as the former deputy project manager and program manager. Joe Villenga manages the Lockheed Martin spaceflight and return work.

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Los Alamos, NM. LANL Space and Atmospheric Science Division develops the sample concentrator and two solar wind monitors. Roger Wiens serves as the Genesis payload activities lead.

Johnson Space Center (JSC), Houston, TX. JSC prevents and controls contamination of the solar wind collectors and safely maintains the returned samples. Eileen Stansbery serves as the contamination control lead.

Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL), Denver, CO. McREL develops and disseminates a wide range of materials for education and public outreach efforts.


Search for Origins


The total cost of the mission, including the rocket that launches it into space and all our communications systems, is $260 million dollars.


Width of Spacecraft Deck:
2.3 meters

Solar Panel Span (longest dimension of the spacecraft):
6.8 meters

Diameter of Sample Return Capsule:
1.5 meters

Diameter of Science Canister:
97.3 centimeters longest distance across

Height from bottom to top of sample return capsule:
131 centimeters

Spin Rate on Station:
One revolution every 37.5 seconds

Mass of spacecraft and launch rocket:

Mass at launch, including propellant:
636 kg.

Propulsion system:
Blowdown monopropellant (hydrazine) with helium pressurant

Communications bandwidth:
S-band telemetry reception at 15 kilobits per second during the halo orbit phase, and 120 bits per second during the cruise and return phases.

Data Rate during Sample Collection:
15 kilobits per second

Max Power Capability:
254 watts

Launch Vehicle:
Boeing Delta 2 rocket

Launch Site:
Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL

Launch Date:
August 8, 2001

Project Life Cycle (months):
Mission began in January 1998
Launch in August 2001
Sample recovery in September 2004
Analysis phase concludes 2007

Contact for more info:

DC Agle
Media Relations Specialist, Solar System Beat
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
4800 Oak Grove Dr.
Pasadena, CA 91106

818/393-9011 (work)
818/354-4537 (fax)

Date Info Last Updated: January 15, 2003

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