Press Release

After a 6 Billion Mile Trip in Space, NASA’s GENESIS Spacecraft Heads Home

By SpaceRef Editor
August 30, 2004
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After a six-billion mile space trip, a fiery plummet toward Earth and a mid-air helicopter catch over the Utah desert, a spacecraft carrying tiny pieces of the Sun should reach Houston next month.

The first bits of extraterrestrial matter retrieved by a United States spacecraft since 1972, when the last moon rocks were carried back to Earth by Apollo astronauts, they will make their home in Houston. Following the mid-air retrieval of the Genesis capsule 4,000 feet above the Utah desert on Sept. 8, the spacecraft will be transported to NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The Genesis science canister, with a precious cargo of solar ions that in total will weigh less than a few grains of salt, will be preserved and protected in the Genesis cleanroom at JSC, NASA’s most efficient.

Media wishing to interview JSC scientists regarding Genesis, mission objectives and the associated science should contact the JSC Newsroom at (281) 483-5111. New video of the Genesis cleanroom and interviews with JSC scientists also is available and will air on the NASA Television Video File beginning at 11 a.m. CDT today.

Specifically constructed at JSC to house these samples, the Genesis cleanroom is unique. It is continuously flushed with air filtered to remove anything larger than one thousandth the diameter of a human hair. From Houston, the Genesis samples will be distributed to selected scientists to study.

The Genesis spacecraft science collector was assembled at JSC in 2000. The mission began three years ago with the launch of a space probe to collect tiny charged particles called ions blown toward Earth from the Sun. This constant stream of tiny charged particles is commonly referred to as the solar wind. Scientists say the solar ions Genesis has collected should weigh only as much as a few grains of salt and contain oxygen, nitrogen and other elements that span the periodic table. But the tiny particles may yield key extensive insight into the formation of the Earth and other planets at the dawn of the solar system.

Information on the JSC Genesis Team is available at:

For more information on the Genesis mission, visit:

NASA Television can be seen on a new satellite, AMC-6, Transponder 9, at 3880 MHz, vertical polarization, with audio at 6.8 MHz. In Alaska and Hawaii, NASA TV can be seen on AMC-7, Transponder 17 at 4040 MHz, vertical polarization with audio at 6.8 MHz. For information about NASA TV on the Internet, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.