View Full Version : Genesis - what's happened so far?

2007-Feb-08, 06:29 PM
About a year ago the Genesis space probe crashed into the ground somewhere in the US as its parachute failed to open. Ceramic disks intended to collect interplanetary dust grains were broken. However the scientific staff was reported to be optimistic on being able to reconstruct the positions of the pieces thus being able to win most of the previously expected results. It appears that they meanwhile have fallen silent. Does anybody know something on the present status? Best wishes Jurgen

2007-Feb-08, 06:58 PM
Here (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/genesis/media/Genesis_findings.html) is a NASA webpage from November on some of the research being done with the samples.

"We learned a great deal about the sun by going to the moon," said Don Burnett, Genesis principal investigator at California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. "Now, with our Genesis data, we are turning the tables, using the solar wind to better understand lunar processes."

Ansgar Grimberg from ETH Institute of Astronomy in Zurich and coworkers analyzed the composition of neon in a metallic glass exposed on NASA's Genesis mission. The team's findings are reported in a paper published in the Nov. 17 issue of the journal Science. Burnett is a co-author of the paper.

2007-Feb-09, 10:12 PM
So what have we learned from this.
Not so much information forthcoming as justification for funding by speculative study of information.
Not an unreasonable question,?
My humble misinformed impression is of a failed mission. They missed it. It crashed. Breaking open and contaminating the samples attained. Spending the next two years analyzing this data to draw no conclusions. What did I expect? I expected more.
The very idea of plucking a falling space probe was always going to be a risk.
Proved by results to be well founded grounds to doubt the very concept of recovery. Maybe a orbital track that would have enabled the ISS crew to recover this probe might have had a greater chance. What would I know of these decision making processes. Very little it would seem. Did any body think this catching by helicopter would ever work.
So what have we learned from this?

2007-Feb-09, 10:39 PM
What would I know of these decision making processes. Very little it would seem. Did any body think this catching by helicopter would ever work.
So what have we learned from this?

Aerial recoveries have been done since the Explorer program in the 1950's. The technique is a known factor and was rehearsed extensively. To accuse anyone in the project team of playing games of chance with the retrieval is grossly ignorant of reality. What happened was a defect in the assembly process, nothing less, and nothing more.

The contamination was regrettable, and has slowed the analysis process substantially, but it has not rendered it impossible. It will take as long as it takes to get what science we can from Genesis.

2007-Feb-10, 12:32 AM
My humble misinformed impression is of a failed mission.

Is there some reason I should want to know your misinformed impression?

2007-Feb-10, 01:19 AM
Hey 011, Astromark is a very useful contributer here who didn't deserve that.

2007-Feb-10, 02:09 AM
Hey 011, Astromark is a very useful contributer here who didn't deserve that.

Astromark didn't deserve to be asked a question about a statement by astromark? How so? Did I ask a stupid question?

Astromark offered up a misinformed impression for our consumption. I can't figure out why. Do you know why? Or should I ask astromark? Or should I not ask astromark? I don't know who to turn to. Help.

2007-Feb-10, 03:22 AM
To Astromark

Although the craft crashed into the desert, broke open, broke some of the collectors, and got dirt in it - the mission is quite successful. The reason - the collectors are designed to get contamination on them without compromising the science. How can this be? The gold, saphire, silicon and silicon carbide wafers are designed so that the high speed ions from the Sun embed themselves below the surface. A NASA diagram at:


shows that the ions are embedded at 50-60 nanometers below the surface.
Contamination such as flakes and films from ground handling, outgassing from the craft, micrometeoroid impacts, and thruster contamination were expected to sit on the surface where they are easily cleaned away.

Kaptain K
2007-Feb-10, 03:35 AM
Maybe a orbital track that would have enabled the ISS crew to recover this probe might have had a greater chance.
Terminal velocity = 11 km/sec (minimum).
Orbital velocity (ISS) = 8 Km/sec (maximum).
Difference = 3 Km/sec (minimum).

So, you propose that the ISS crew should have tried to "catch" over 600 Kg moving at close to 11,000 kph? I don't think so!

2007-Feb-10, 11:08 AM
well you started this. . . :)and that is good. Yes I did the maths. Could a little more control of this objects trajectory have placed in an ellipse orbit,? Yes it could. I rest my argument on what could be done to have improved the odds of recovery. It makes perfect sense to me that this probe could have been inserted into orbit for recovery. It did not need to come straight in at terminal velocity. If we can piggy back a Hygens probe all the way to Titan and have it descend in a controlled manner. Of course we could have done this probe recovery better. Note, that I was quickly pulled up for my obvious and clearly stated uninformed opinion. While my question regarding the justification of expenditure is ignored. I still want to know why so much money is wasted on so little return. How do these people sleep knowing that the corrupted information may never reach the public forum. Reminding you that it is our money and set backs like this are very costly when the perception of expenditure wasted is obvious. Before you attack my rantings here stop and consider what it is I am actually saying, (or trying to). Remember that my ability or inability to articulate an argument clearly is not to sagest I am wrong. I thought I was wrong once but, was mistaken. . :)
Do not take me to seriously, I don't.

Amber Robot
2007-Feb-10, 03:31 PM
I still want to know why so much money is wasted on so little return.

I don't think the intention was to get little return. And how much money was it? How much did each taxpayer pay in order for this mission to go up? How many minutes of Iraq war was the mission's cost equivalent to?

2007-Feb-10, 04:25 PM
One way to search for technical informatio in astronomy is to go to the ADS service:


If you type the words "Genesis sample return solar wind" into the "Abstract words" box, and press the "Send Query" button, you'll receive a list of recent published papers which pertain to the mission. Here, I've already done the work for you:

List of papers with these words in the abstract (http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-abs_connect?db_key=AST&db_key=PRE&qform=AST&sim_query=YES&ned_query=YES&aut_logic=OR&obj_logic=OR&author=&object=&start_mon=&start_year=&end_mon=&end_year=&ttl_logic=OR&title=&txt_logic=OR&text=genesis+sample+return+solar+wind&nr_to_return=100&start_nr=1&jou_pick=ALL&ref_stems=&data_and=ALL&group_and=ALL&start_entry_day=&start_entry_mon=&start_entry_year=&end_entry_day=&end_entry_mon=&end_entry_year=&min_score=&sort=SCORE&data_type=SHORT&aut_syn=YES&ttl_syn=YES&txt_syn=YES&aut_wt=1.0&obj_wt=1.0&ttl_wt=0.3&txt_wt=3.0&aut_wgt=YES&obj_wgt=YES&ttl_wgt=YES&txt_wgt=YES&ttl_sco=YES&txt_sco=YES&version=1)

As you can see, there are many published papers which analyze the Genesis results. For example, the abstract of one summary by Burnett is:

Genesis returned samples of high purity materials exposed to the solar wind for 27 months, including separate samples of 3 solar wind regimes. Science objectives are to measure solar isotopic and elemental abundances to a precision sufficient for planetary science problems. A crash upon Earth return resulted in massive breakage of collector materials, serious losses of the amounts of materials, and particulate surface contamination. However, atoms are not destroyed by impact. We have over 15,000 pieces of collector materials greater than 3 mm in size. We can show that the implanted solar wind resides safely beneath the surface of the collector materials, while the contamination is on the surface. We have only 100 A of depth margin, but, because we are a sample return mission, we can use all of 21^st century technology to exploit this margin. We were fortunate in that 3/5 materials for dedicated experiments survived in relatively good shape. A major issue is the extent to which the acceleration of the solar wind has modified elemental and isotopic abundances from the photospheric values. Spacecraft studies show that elements with first ionization potential (FIP) greater than 9 eV are depleted in the solar wind relative to lower FIP elements, but the lower FIP elements, which make up most of terrestrial planet material, appear unfractionated. Our preliminary Genesis Fe/Mg is 0.78 and in good agreement with both spacecraft data and the photospheric absorption line ratio. Little is known about isotopic fractionation in the solar wind, but our regime samples represent materials formed by different solar processes. The isotopic compositions of Ne and Ar in the different regime samples agree with permil level precision. There is no evidence for isotope fractionation in the solar wind relative to the photosphere. A sample of bulk metallic glass (BMG) which etches uniformly with nitric acid vapor was recovered intact. This sample provides a check on the presence of higher energy (SEP) solar ions with different isotopic compositons. Extensive lunar sample analyses indicated an SEP 20Ne/22Ne ratio of 11.4 compared to 13.7 for the solar wind. BMG etching produced a continuously dropping 20/22 ratio down to at least 10.8. The trend matches exactly what is seen in lunar samples; however, the trend can be quantitatively reproduced by allowing for the differential implantation of 22Ne and 20 Ne, and differential implantation appears to explain the lunar results as well.

Kaptain K
2007-Feb-10, 06:08 PM
Could a little more control of this objects trajectory have placed in an ellipse orbit,? Yes it could.
No, it could not! Why? Because of Earth's gravity. Even if you choose an orbit that originally approaches Earth at one kph, gravity will accelerate it to 11 kps by the time it gets here.

...this probe could have been inserted into orbit for recovery.
Sure it could...if it carried several tons of fuel to slow down!

If we can piggy back a Hygens probe all the way to Titan and have it descend in a controlled manner.
The Huygens probe hit Titan's atmosphere at terminal velocity, used a heat shield to aerobrake, and then used a parachute to the ground. Exactly same as Genesis - minus the mid-air recovery. As has been said by others, mid-air recovery is a tried and true method of recovery. Before CCD cameras, spy satellites used film cameras. The film was ejected and recovered routinely. It didn't work for Genesis because of assembly error, not because of abasic flaw in the design.

2007-Feb-11, 01:25 AM
Just as StupendousMan has answered all my questions with great clarity, and thank you. Kapt K has not understood me at all. I have no disagreement with any of your facts. For that is what they are. My point is made by the fact that this prob and its recovery were not to plan. I do not agree that this plan was a good one. The facts prove me right.
Why did it go so wrong?
To make parody with the expenditure of the Iraqi conflict is and has nothing to do with any thing here and I will not go down that road. You just shot your own foot.
The very concept of recovery from the atmosphere of an object by intercepting helicopters is not good enough for the value of the cargo to be recovered. Months of work and millions of dollars were the cost of what looks like a cost cutting exercise.
..... and did anyone ask the residence of Titan to intercept the Hygens prob by recovering from insertion by helicopter. They might be glad to help.:) Where did that come from? send it back.
It is just from my point of view that accidents such as these are very costly and the price is not just monetary. The confidence lost is the real problem. Can you agree with that? Kapt K.

Kaptain K
2007-Feb-11, 07:03 AM

2007-Feb-11, 10:36 AM
I still want to know why so much money is wasted on so little return.

Me personally, I want to know how you determined there was so little return.

NASA JPL Genesis Mission :: Science (http://genesismission.jpl.nasa.gov/science/solarwind_db.html)

GENESIS SCIENCE: "We have solar wind."
At the March 2005 annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston, Genesis mission Principal Investigator Don Burnett announced that the mission has identified ions (see image) of Solar origin in one of the wafer fragments. "We have solar wind," said Burnett, "and we're open for business." The Curation Facility at the NASA Johnson Space Center is now accepting science community requests from its catalogue of over 10,000 sample materials. Burnett went on to say, "The best place to have a mishap is on Earth. You can pick up the pieces. You can use every bit of modern technology to solve your problem." Although the team has had only a very early glimpse at science results, Burnett expresses confidence in long-term success.

Over 10,000 sample materials. So little return? How many samples did you say there should have been?

Lunar and Planetary Science XXXVII (2006)
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
GENESIS MISSION (http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2006/pdf/sess252.pdf) (PDF)

1:30 p.m. Crystal Ballroom B
Chairs: D. S. Burnett
A. J. G. Jurewicz
1:30 p.m. Jurewicz A. J. G. * Burnett D. S. Guan Y. G. Woolum D. S.
Elemental Solar Wind Fluences of Fe and Mg from Genesis Samples [#2106]

1:45 p.m. Reisenfeld D. B. * Wiens R. C. Barraclough B. L. Steinberg J. T. DeKoning C. Raines J.
Zurbuchen T. H. Burnett D. S.
The Genesis Mission: The Effects of Solar Wind Conditions on the Deposition and Interpretation of the
Genesis Samples [#1830]

2:00 p.m. Calaway W. F. * Veryovkin I. V. Tripa C. E. Savina M. R. Pellin M. J. Burnett D. S.
The Elemental Abundance of Magnesium in Solar Wind Samples Returned by Genesis [#1814]

2:15 p.m. Nishiizumi K. * Reedy R. C. Burnett D. S. Komura K. Welten K. C.
Solar Cosmic Ray Production Rate on Genesis Quartz Target [#2420]

2:30 p.m. Heber V. S. * Wiens R. C. Burnett D. S. Baur H. Wiechert U. Wieler R.
Solar Wind Neon in the Genesis Concentrator Gold Cross by UV Laser Ablation:
First Preliminary Data [#2175]

2:45 p.m. Grimberg A. * Bühler F. Burnett D. S. Jurewicz A. J. G. Hays C. C. Bochsler P. Heber V. S.
Baur H. Wieler R.
Solar Wind Helium and Neon from Metallic Glass Flown on Genesis — Preliminary Bulk and
Velocity-dependent Data [#1782]

3:00 p.m. Hohenberg C. M. * Meshik A. P. Marrocchi Y. Mabry J. C. Pravdivtseva O. V.
Allton J. H. Burnett D. S.
Light Noble Gases from Solar Wind Regimes Measured in Genesis Collectors from Different Arrays [#2439]

Lunar and Planetary Science XXXVII (2006)
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
POSTER SESSION I: GENESIS MISSION (ftp://ftp.lpi.usra.edu/pub/outgoing/lpsc2006/full315.pdf) (PDF)

Allton J. H. Calaway M. J. Rodriguez M. C. Hittle J. D. Wentworth S. J. Stansbery E. K. McNamara K. M.
Genesis Solar Wind Sample Curation: A Progress Report [#1611]

Allton J. H. Calaway M. J. Hittle J. D. Rodriguez M. C. Stansbery E. K. McNamara K. M.
Cleaning Surface Particle Contamination with Ultrapure Water (UPW) Megasonic Flow on Genesis Array
Collectors [#2324]

Brennan S. Ishii H. A. Luening K. Pianetta P. Burnett D. S.
Synchrotron Total-Reflection X-Ray Fluorescence (SR-TXRF) of Genesis Return Samples [#2029]

Burnard P. Zimmermann L. Marty B.
Vacuum UV Laser Ablation of Genesis Target Materials: Results from Gold-on-Sapphire Analogs [#1695]

Burnett D. S.
Genesis Mission: Overview and Status [#1848]

Calaway M. J. Stansbery E. K. McNamara K. M.
Modeling Ellipsometry Measurements of Molecular Thin-Film Contamination on Genesis Flown Array Samples [#1420]

Huang S. Humayun M. King S. Goddard B. Burnett D.
Step-Cleaning Experiment on the Genesis Wafers [#2440]

Kitts K. Sutton S. Eng P. Ghose S. Burnett D.
Discrimination and Quantification of Contamination and Implanted Solar Wind in Genesis Collector Shards Using Grazing
Incidence Synchrotron X-Ray Techniques: Initial Results [#1451]

Kuhlman K. R. Jurewicz A. J. G. Grimberg A. Heber V. Sridharan K.
Progress Toward Low-Energy Genesis Simulants [#2443]

Mao P. H. Kunihiro T. McKeegan K. D. Coath C. D. Jarzebinski G. Burnett D.
MegaSIMS Update: Oxygen Transmission, Destruction of OH Molecular Ions, and Stability of
Three-Isotope Measurements [#2153]

Meshik A. P. Marrocchi Y. Hohenberg C. M. Pravdivtseva O. V. Mabry J. C. Olinger C. Burnett D. S.
Allton J. H. Bastien R. McNamara K. M. Stansbery E. K.
Measurements of Light Noble Gases in the Genesis Polished Aluminum Collector [#2433]

Reedy R. C.
Solar-Proton Event-Integrated Fluences During the Current Solar Cycle [#1419]

Sestak S. Franchi I. A. Verchovsky A. B. Al-Kuzee J. Braithwaite N. St. J. Burnett D. S.
Application of Semiconductor Industry Cleaning Technologies for Genesis Sample Collectors [#1878]

Sisterson J. M.
New Cross Section Measurement for Neutron-induced Reactions in Elements Found in Extraterrestrial Materials [#1667]

Veryovkin I. V. Calaway W. F. Tripa C. E. Pellin M. J.
Advanced Analytical Instrument Facility for Analysis of Return Samples from NASA Space Exploration Missions [#1849]

So little return!

Coming soon: LPSC 2007

Thursday, March 15, 2007
INTERPLANETARY DUST/GENESIS (ftp://ftp.lpi.usra.edu/pub/outgoing/lpsc2007/full555.pdf) (PDF)
13 more presentations.

Thursday, March 15, 2007
POSTER SESSION II: GENESIS (ftp://ftp.lpi.usra.edu/pub/outgoing/lpsc2007/full605.pdf) (PDF)
11 more displays.

2007-Feb-11, 12:44 PM
Astromark and Neil are desparate to find something on which to comment. Forgive us if we occasionally comment anyway. Neil

2007-Feb-11, 12:45 PM
Nice shot, 011.

2007-Feb-12, 12:32 AM
I was just looking at the original proposal schedule to compare some of the predicted project milestones with the current calendar.

From 2. SCIENCE IMPLEMENTATION :: 2.C Sample Analysis Plans (http://www.gps.caltech.edu/genesis/Science2.html#2C) (of Caltech: Genesis Proposal, Table of Contents (http://www.gps.caltech.edu/genesis/s2cont.html)):

Phase E Schedule [Approximate calendar dates in brackets by 01101001]

Table 2-3
Phase E Science Activities Schedule
E = Beginning of Phase E = Launch + 30 Days
Times in Years
E + 0 Begin AAIF Procurement Phase. [2002 March]
E + 0 Continue ESR preparation. [2002 March]
E + 1 Begin AAIF Installation Phase. [2003 March]
E + 2.5 Recovery. [2004 September]
E + 2.8 Collector disassembly and sample status inventory. [2005 January]
E + 2.9 ESR allocation complete. [2005 February]
E + 3.0 1st round PI allocation requests due. [2005 March]
E + 3.5 First round general allocations complete. [2005 September]
E + 3.8 Sample catalog publication. [2006 January]
E + 4.0 Begin AAIF Utilization Phase. [2006 March]
E + 4.0 End monitor science analysis. [2006 March]
E + 4.0 Mission & Early Science publication. [2006 March]
E + 4.5 2nd round allocation requests due. [2006 September]
E + 5.0 Second round of general allocations complete. [2007 March]
E + 5.1 3rd round of allocation requests due. [2007 April]
E + 5.6 Third round of general allocations. [2007 September]
E + 6.0 End AAIF Utilization Phase. [2008 March]
End of Phase E.
It appears to me that if all went according to schedule -- I wouldn't be surprised if the schedule slipped some because of backward-facing accelerometers -- we'd now be in the midst of the 2nd round of allocations. That sounds about right, if 2005 March saw initial reports of results, 2006 March saw a number of results announced [LPSC 2006]. 2007 March promises another round of results announced [LPSC 2007]. Maybe they managed to stay right on schedule.

It looks like we should keep seeing more and more results (from this "failed" mission) over the next couple of years as 2nd- and 3rd-round allocations yield their fruit.

I wonder how many years of results we can expect overall, given the large number of samples available to researchers. 10 years? 20? I guess it all depends on sample consumption rates. I bet tools and methods haven't even been dreamt of yet that will be applied in the future to some of these samples.

Samples! Genesis samples! Get your Genesis solar-wind samples right here!

Are you a scientist/investigator with the skills and desire to learn more about the solar wind? Do you want to work on actual samples of solar-wind particles collected in space? Then, you, too, can apply for precious Genesis solar-wind samples to analyze. Amaze your friends and colleagues. Act now! Supplies are large but finite.

NASA Astromaterials Curations: Solar Wind Samples :: REQUESTING SAMPLES (http://curator.jsc.nasa.gov/genesis/samreq.cfm)

For those wishing to submit requests for Genesis solar wind materials, please see the Genesis Research Sample Investigator's Handbook. Sample requests should be made to the Genesis Solar Wind Sample Curator at Johnson Space Center. Requests will be reviewed by the Genesis Allocation Committee, a subcommittee of the Curation, Analysis and Planning Team for Extraterrestrial Materials (CAPTEM).


2007-Feb-12, 08:20 AM
Thank you for all that. great stuff.
Consequently I will now withdraw and apologies. good on you '011' It would appear that I was jumping on the wrong bus. :)

2007-Feb-12, 08:33 AM
Thank you for all that.

I didn't know so much was done, so I was having fun. I learned some stuff. Last time I looked, maybe a year ago, it was a lot more quiet. Thanks for enticing me to look.

2007-Feb-12, 09:47 AM
69, nice user name.

2007-Feb-12, 03:13 PM
69, nice user name.

Good eye for an interpretation in one somewhat arbitrary number base expressed in a second one, but it's not the only facet that drew me to the gem -- hence: article in topic Explain your name (http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php?p=246849#post246849), or About 01101001 (http://www.01101001.com/about.html).

2007-Feb-17, 01:55 AM
Thank you all for your comments, in particular StupendousMan, who gave me the information I had been looking for. All the best Jurgen

2007-Dec-05, 10:28 PM
Planetary Society Weblog: Some Genesis results (http://planetary.org/blog/article/00001250/)

[...] I stumbled upon a publication in Science from October 19 on a significant result from Genesis: "Constraints on Neon and Argon Isotopic Fractionation in the Solar Wind (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/318/5849/433)," by Alex Meshik and a pile of coauthors.

[...] they concluded that their samples were free of Earthly contamination. Good news.

[...] Past research has suggested that these different processes might send out solar wind with different compositions -- the regular everyday solar wind might have a different composition to the particles that get blasted out in coronal mass ejection events. If true, that would make it difficult for scientists to figure out from the Sun's composition what complement of isotopes the solar nebula started out with. Well, the Meshik paper contains more good news here: the relative abundances of isotopes of neon and argon in the Sun were measured incredibly precisely from the Genesis samples, and they did not change from regime to regime.