Space NASA's Genesis Capsule Crashes

Robby

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NASA's Genesis return capsule crashed into the desert Wednesday morning due to an apparent malfunction in its parachutes.

The 420-pound space capsule was to have been plucked out of the air by a helicopter and returned safely to Earth. It was carrying solar wind samples -- charged atoms of oxygen and sodium -- weighing less than 20 micrograms, which is less than a few grains of salt.

It is unclear whether the samples have been destroyed. NASA officials say that the sapphire, silicon and diamond wafers that were used to collect the samples may have been shattered in the crash, although it may be possible to piece them back together.

"It's a pit in my stomach," said Roger Wiens, flight payload lead at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, the creator of three of the instruments aboard Genesis. But Wiens was optimistic about the opportunity of recovering samples. "It looks like it's in one piece, and we're going to get a lot of samples of solar wind out of there."

Video taken from one NASA helicopter showed the capsule buried halfway in the desert sand, but still intact. A military Black Hawk helicopter landed within yards of the capsule, and several crew members stepped out to inspect and photograph the damage. They took care not to disturb the capsule, however, due to the possibility that it still contained live mortars, explosives which were to be used to deploy the parachutes.

[Full article @ Wired]
 

Robby

The News Robot
Joined
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Location
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An investigating board says the capsule was doomed by faulty engineering drawings that were done. The drawings led to incorrect placement of switches that were supposed to detect Genesis' re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.

[Full article @ Wired]
 
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