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Fraser
2004-Aug-22, 06:31 PM
SUMMARY: NASA's Genesis spacecraft has nearly returned to Earth with its precious cargo of particles from the solar wind. On September 8, the spacecraft's sample return capsule will enter the Earth's atmosphere, and it will be captured in midair by a helicopter in Utah. The particles were collected over the course of 27 months, and captured in hexagonal wafers of pure silicon, gold, sapphire, and diamond. These are so fragile, that engineers didn't want to risk it actually striking the ground and damaging some of these wafers. Two helicopters will be in the air as the capsule parachutes down, and they should have 5 opportunities to snag it before it hits the ground.

What do you think about this story? Post your comments below.

om@umr.edu
2004-Aug-22, 06:35 PM
We all wish them well!

A lot depends on the safe recovery and analysis of these samples.

I hope they will be able to determine if the abundance of elements emitted from the Sun depends in any way on the energy with which it is ejected.

With kind regards,

Oliver
http://www.umr.edu/~om

TuTone
2004-Aug-22, 07:59 PM
How will scientist use these samples? What is the point? What will they discover?

om@umr.edu
2004-Aug-22, 08:23 PM
Good question, TuTone.

Lunar soils captured elements carried from the Sun and implanted in the surfaces of these grains by the solar wind over billions of years. This "catcher" material was not specifically designed for the experiment, but it did a good job.

The Moon is highly depleted in volatile elements, so the Apollo missions returned samples in which we could most easily study volatile elements that came from the Sun.

Elements like H, He, N, Ne, Ar, Kr and Xe.

The Genesis mission used high purity "catcher" foils in which we should also be able to see refractory elements, like Mg (Magnesium), that have been added from the Sun. That is one of the major strengths of the Genesis mission.

Hopefully, the Genesis mission will also be able to better distinguish the material added by solar flares from that added by the quiet solar wind. If so, these measurements may confirm or deny suggestions that light elements and light isotopes of most elements (not N) are more abundant in the quiet solar wind than in solar flares.

The main weakness of the Genesis mission is the 27 month collection period. This is less than a single solar cycle. So most of the material was aquired by Genesis during a period of high solar activity and solar eruptions.

There are weak indications that the surface composition of Sun-like stars may depend on their level of surface activity.

With kind regards,

Oliver
http://www.umr.edu/~om

DAVE SHORT
2004-Aug-23, 06:31 PM
When I read this it reminded me of the SCOOP mission on "Andromeda Strain". What is the possibility of some hazardous life form returning on this mission and will it be quaranteened? Just a thought.

om@umr.edu
2004-Aug-23, 06:37 PM
That is a good question for the Genesis team.

I don't know the answer, but I seriously doubt if hazardous life forms are a threat in material coming from the Sun.

With kind regards,

Oliver
http://www.umr.edu/~om

Tom2Mars
2004-Aug-24, 03:18 PM
I am reminded of: First Mid-Air Recovery of Returning Satellite (http://www.photovault.com/Link/Military/AirForce/Aircraft/C-119JFlyingBoxcar.html) in the 60's(early!).
The modified C119J had a V-shaped boom on its nose that grabbed, cut the chute lines and reeled in the "package".

So, I can't help but think...Helicopters!...Whirling Blades!! :o

I hope their recovery timing is impeccable and wish them the best of luck!

om@umr.edu
2004-Nov-27, 03:58 PM
Originally posted by Tom2Mars@Aug 24 2004, 03:18 PM
I hope their recovery timing is impeccable and wish them the best of luck!
Sorry, Tom2Mars.

Your wish was not fulfilled.

However, some samples were recovered. The first results may be presented about four months from now, at the next Lunar & Planetary Science Conference in Houston, TX, in March 2005.

Will this $260 million NASA mission confirm or deny our finding that light mass (L) isotopes and elements are enriched at the solar surface relative to heavier (H) ones by a factor (F):

F = (H/L)^4.56 ? ?

http://web.umr.edu/~om/abstracts/gong-2002.pdf

I hope they address this issue. The composition of the Sun (99.9% of the mass of the solar system) depends on the answer.

With kind regards,

Oliver
http://www.umr.edu/~om

antoniseb
2004-Nov-27, 04:30 PM
Originally posted by om@umr.edu@Nov 27 2004, 03:58 PM
Will this $260 million NASA mission confirm or deny our finding that light mass (L) isotopes and elements are enriched at the solar surface relative to heavier (H) ones by a factor (F): F = (H/L)^4.56 ? ?

As we've said before, no it won't. It will give more precise values for the abundances in the solar wind. These values will continue to have different abundance ratios than terrestrial rocks by a factor F = (H/L)^4.56, showing once again, and more precisely that the Earth has collected the heavier isotopes and elements in preference over the lighter ones.

Please work harder to confine your promotions of the Iron Sun hypothesis to the Iron Sun thread.

om@umr.edu
2004-Nov-27, 04:43 PM
Originally posted by antoniseb@Nov 27 2004, 04:30 PM
These values will continue to have different abundance ratios than terrestrial rocks by a factor F = (H/L)^4.56, showing once again, and more precisely that the Earth has collected the heavier isotopes and elements in preference over the lighter ones.

Please work harder to confine your promotions of the Iron Sun hypothesis to the Iron Sun thread.
Thanks, Anton.

I doubt if Genesis data exactly agrees with

F = (H/L)^4.56

Light elements in the photosphere show

F = (H/L)^5.15

So I would be happy with anything like

F = (H/L)^5

I hope you and other UT participants will be at the LPSC in Houston to hear the Genesis results.

Thanks also for the reminder.

With kind regards,

Oliver
http://www.umr.edu/~om

PS: The next Lunar & Planetary Science Conference is scheduled for 14-18 March 2005.
http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2005/