Artist Rendering of the Genesis Spacecraft

Web viewers can watch NASA's Genesis mission, set to catch a piece of the Sun and return it to Earth, launch July 30 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in Florida.

The Internet event, lasting two and a half hours, will begin at 8 a.m. PDT (11 a.m. EDT).

Genesis will capture a piece of the Sun -- a sample of the ions and elements in the solar wind -- and bring the samples back to Earth so that scientists can study the exact composition of the Sun and probe the solar system's origin. By studying the solar wind, scientists hope to find clues about the formation of the solar system as we know it today. The Genesis mission is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and the spacecraft was built by Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, Colo.

In 2004, samples collected by Genesis will return to Earth in a spectacular helicopter capture. Specially trained helicopter pilots will catch the sample return capsule as it parachutes to the ground at Utah's Air Force Test and Training Range. The samples will then be analyzed to provide a "Rosetta Stone" of solar material for comparing the Sun's original ingredients to those of the planets and other solar system bodies. Information on the mission is available at .

Genesis is part of NASA's Discovery Program of competitively selected, low-cost solar system exploration missions with highly focused science goals. Chester Sasaki of JPL is project manager, and Dr. Donald Burnett of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena is the principal investigator. JPL is a division of Caltech.

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