The Importance of Sample Return
Apr. 24 & 25
NASA's Genesis sample-return mission collected solar-wind samples outside of Earth's magnetosphere and returned them to Earth for analysis. Isotopic and elemental relative abundances of the solar wind will provide a cornerstone data set for theories on how, starting some 4.6 billion years ago, the solar nebula transformed into the present solar system. Built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems and managed by JPL, Genesis was launched from Kennedy Space Center in August 2001. It was then placed into a halo orbit around the L1 Lagrange point, where for 886 days it passively collected solar-wind samples that buried themselves in specially created materials. After the collection period the spacecraft closed itself up and, in rather dramatic fashion, returned samples to Earth on September 8, 2004.
Dr. Don Burnett
Genesis Principle Investigator, Caltech