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Fraser
2004-Sep-09, 05:03 PM
SUMMARY: NASA specialists have begun cleaning up after the sample capsule from its Genesis capsule slammed into the ground at high speed in the Utah desert. The ground crew took their time picking up the capsule because there could have been live explosives, which failed to eject the capsule's parachute as it entered the atmosphere. Even though it was going 311 kph (193 mph) when it smashed into the ground, scientists were surprised at how little damage was actually done. Some of the wafers that had collected particles of the Sun's solar wind were actually unharmed, so scientists will be able to extract some useful particles; although, they could be contaminated with air, water and dirt after the rough landing.

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

Namm
2004-Sep-09, 06:44 PM
what a bad mess, what's going wrong with NASA :angry:

StarLab
2004-Sep-09, 07:34 PM
Well, at least they had a plan just in case an event such as this one were to occur.

Trumpdumper
2004-Sep-09, 09:52 PM
Okay, bad joke coming....

Maybe they should've named it Icarus instead.

om@umr.edu
2004-Sep-09, 11:35 PM
I am pleased they will try to recover any residual part of the $260,000,000 worth of information contained in the wafers before the impact.

Only measurements will show whether contamination from "air, water and dirt" has completely swamped the material collected earlier from the solar wind.

With kind regards,

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

StarLab
2004-Sep-10, 03:12 AM
I'm sure they can separate the contaminants from the pure solar particles.

Willy Logan
2004-Sep-10, 01:57 PM
It seems that they would have had a better likelihood of success if they'd launch two Genesis spacecraft and tried to recover both of them. That way, they'd have redundancy and still have a chance at recovering the second one if the first one failed. (I believe this was part of the thinking behind sending both Spirit and Opportunity to Mars.) What I want to know is why it was so important to do this experiment again, since I seem to recall that the astronauts on Apollo 11 set up a solar wind collection device during their short moonwalk.

-Willy

om@umr.edu
2004-Sep-10, 02:34 PM
That is a good question, Willy, that would be better answered by Don Burnett.

1. Lunar dirt served as an excellent collector for volatile elements in the solar wind. However, it is not a good collector for elements that are abundant in the dirt itself. We learned a great deal about the Sun from measurements on lunar dirt.

2. The solar wind collector set up on the Moon was made of aluminium, as I recall.

3. The collectors in the Genesis mission were made of several different materials.

4. My impression is that the design of the collectors has improved significantly since the time the solar wind collection device was set up on the Moon.

With kind regards,

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

Tim Thompson
2004-Sep-10, 05:48 PM
I attended a meeting discussing the status of Genesis (http://www.genesismission.org/) this morning, and I can tell you a few things. First, of 4 targets for measuring oxygen, 2 are intact & undamaged, and the 2 others seem to be likewise undamaged. The nitrogen measuring foils also appear to be in good shape. The wafers for measuring everything else are cracked & damaged, but most remain in their holding cells. In all cases, it appears that contamination will be primarily relegated to the surface. In the case of the wafers, it was always intended to scrape away the surface anyway, before measuring anything, because of possible surface contamination at manufacture. So it appears better then 50/50 that a large portion of the original science goals will be met. I think things are much better than was apparent at first sight.

The cause of the failure is unknown, but it is known that the parachute never received a command to open, because the opening pyros are unfired.

antoniseb
2004-Sep-10, 05:54 PM
Thanks Tim, That's great news!

Guest
2004-Sep-10, 09:05 PM
Originally posted by Willy Logan@Sep 10 2004, 01:57 PM
What I want to know is why it was so important to do this experiment again, since I seem to recall that the astronauts on Apollo 11 set up a solar wind collection device during their short moonwalk.

-Willy
I read somewhere that they wanted to collect it from a certain location... something to do with the gravitational fields cancelling each other out between earths and the sun. I just hope this doesnt happen when we try to bring back Mars samples.

Guest
2004-Sep-10, 09:08 PM
Originally posted by Guest@Sep 10 2004, 09:05 PM
[QUOTE=Willy Logan,Sep 10 2004, 01:57 PM] What I want to know is why it was so important to do this experiment again, since I seem to recall that the astronauts on Apollo 11 set up a solar wind collection device during their short moonwalk.

Sorry for posting again but i found it.
"To collect the purest possible particles of the sun, the Genesis spacecraft traveled to a point where the gravities of the sun and the Earth are balanced. The point was also far enough away from the Earth's magnetic field, which can alter solar particles."

http://www.sltrib.com/ci_2412206

antoniseb
2004-Sep-10, 09:27 PM
Originally posted by Guest@Sep 10 2004, 09:05 PM
I read somewhere that they wanted to collect it from a certain location
There is another thread on this elsewhere in the forum.

Like the moon, this craft was ouside the Earth's magnetosphere [actually, the moon passes through it, but was outside for the collecting during the Apollo missions].

Tim Thompson and Oliver Manuel both pointed out that the differences are that the collection was done on several materials, so now we can observe [for example] Aluminum ions which the aluminum foil on the moon contaminated, and we have numerous other better controls that allow us to make better observations than was possible with the lunar foil. In addition the collection time was much longer, and so the statistics on the samples will be a lot tighter.

Dr. Manuel has pointed out [indirectly] that it would be useful to send missions like this out every year for a solar cycle or two, with the capability of putting out some collectors for individual flares.

om@umr.edu
2004-Sep-13, 04:22 PM
Anton,

1. Only one isotope of aluminum exists in nature now, Al-27.

There were two isotopes of Aluminum at the birth of the solar system, Al-26 and Al-27.

The lighter one is radioactive and decayed away with a half-life of about 716,000 years.

In one of the earliest grains to form, the ratio was found to be Al-26/Al-27 = 1/2 = 0.50.

Since supernova produce these two aluminum isotopes about equally, this grain of silicon carbide (SiC) formed about 716,000 years after the supernova.

2. Yes, I endorse the idea of sending out "missions like this out every year for a solar cycle or two, with the capability of putting out some collectors for individual flares."

However, I would be stingy in investing funds in new missions. I would certainly not invest funds in those who learned nothing from the Apollo Missions to the Moon.

Mission applicants would be asked to explain what they learned from solar-wind and solar-flare implanted atoms in the surfaces of lunar samples.

With kind regards,

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

antoniseb
2004-Sep-13, 04:39 PM
Originally posted by om@umr.edu@Sep 13 2004, 04:22 PM
2. Yes, I endorse the idea of sending out "missions like this out every year for a solar cycle or two, with the capability of putting out some collectors for individual flares."
I'm glad we agree on something. I also agree that any such mission proposals should explain what new data they'd get beyond what was observed from the lunar samples and experiments, as well as any other solar wind related missions.

I was a little surprised by your first point. Were you expecting that there would be a detectable amount of Al-26 in the solar wind that Genesis observed? I hadn't read that it was expected. Was any observed in the Lunar samples?

om@umr.edu
2004-Sep-13, 07:06 PM
Originally posted by antoniseb@Sep 13 2004, 04:39 PM
I was a little surprised by your first point. Were you expecting that there would be a detectable amount of Al-26 in the solar wind that Genesis observed? I hadn't read that it was expected. Was any observed in the Lunar samples?
Anton,

I simply wanted to point out that Aluminum (Al) is now mono-isotopic.

Magnesium (Mg) is a more abundant element. Measurements on Mg in the solar wind would be more useful than measurements on Al because Mg has three (3) stable isotopes, Mg-24, Mg-25, and Mg-26.

We know ratios of isotopes much better than we know ratios of elements. Thus, measurements on mono-isotopic elements* like F, Al, or I in the solar wind are of less value in telling us what is happening inside the Sun.

We want to measure elements with lots of isotopes, like the element Tin (Sn) with ten (10) isotopes! Then we can easily see if mass separation inside the Sun is selectively moving the lighter Sn isotopes to the solar surface.

The element Xenon (Xe) has nine (9) stable isotopes. Many different measurements on lunar soils show that the lighter mass isotopes are selectively enriched by about 3.5% per mass unit, over the mass range of 124 to 136 atomic mass units (amu).

With kind regards,

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

*PS - At the birth of the solar system, some of these were not mono-isotopic. Aluminum was a mix of Al-26 and Al-27. Iodine was a mix of I-127 and I-129. The I-129 decayed away with a half-life of 16,000,000 years. The Al-26 decayed away with a half-life of 716,000 years.