Artist's rendering of the Genesis spacecraft during the collection phase of its mission to return samples of the solar wind to Earth. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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Designed to gain a better understanding of our cosmic origins, the Genisis spacecraft was launched in August 2001 to collect solar wind samples and return them to Earth for study.
In 2004, after completing its sampling phase at the Legrange point 1, or L1, the spacecraft released its sample return capsule, which made an unplanned hard landing when its parachute failed to deploy. Still, it marked NASA's first sample return since the final Apollo lunar mission in 1972, and the first material collected beyond the moon. Using the sample, researchers have already found evidence that the Earth possibly formed from different solar nebula materials than those that created the sun.
November 16, 2001: The Genesis spacecraft arrives at Legrange point 1, or L1.
April 1, 2004: The Genesis spacecraft completes its sampling of the solar wind.
September 8, 2004: The Genesis spacecraft releases a sample return capsule, which enters Earth's atmosphere. Although the capsule makes a hard landing as a result of a failed parachute in the Utah Test and Training Range in Dugway, Utah, it marks NASA's first sample return since the final Apollo lunar mission in 1972, and the first material collected beyond the moon.
June 2001: Researchers studying the solar wind return sample from the Genesis spacecraft find evidence that the Earth possibly formed from different solar nebula materials than those that created the sun.
- Plasma spectrometers
- Sample collection arrays
- Return capsule