Press Release

Spacecraft Riding High to Catch Some Rays

By SpaceRef Editor
August 8, 2001
Filed under , ,

NASA’s Genesis spacecraft launched flawlessly atop a Delta 7326 rocket from
Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Station at 12:13:40 p.m. EDT (9:13:40 a.m. PDT)
today.

Genesis will become the first mission ever to return a sample of
extraterrestrial material from beyond the Moon when it catches a piece of
the Sun to return to Earth.

The Genesis team reported that the spacecraft was in excellent health and
that its power and temperature levels are normal. The spacecraft is in
communication with NASA’s Deep Space Network, and is controlled through the
mission operations area at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena,
Calif., where the mission is managed.

At 64 minutes, 12 seconds into the mission — or 1:17 p.m. EDT — the
Genesis spacecraft separated from the Delta’s third stage. Immediately after
separation, Genesis’ solar arrays unfolded and pointed toward the Sun. The
spacecraft’s signal was successfully acquired by the NASA Deep Space Network
complex at Goldstone, Ca., 85 minutes after launch at 1:38 p.m. EST.

In September, Genesis will arrive at a point where the gravities of the Sun
and Earth are balanced. It will open its collector arrays and begin to
monitor and collect the solar wind, ions flowing from the outer layer of the
Sun. The samples of solar wind it returns will help scientists understand
how the solar system evolved.

In September 2004, Genesis will return to Earth. The capsule in which the
samples are sealed will plummet to Earth, slow with the aid of a parachute
and be snagged in mid-air by a helicopter. The precious samples will be
airlifted to the Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, where they will be
distributed for scientific analysis and safely curated in order to be
available for the next century of planetary science studies.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, manages the
Genesis mission for NASA’s Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C.
Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, Colo., designed and built the
spacecraft and will operate it jointly with JPL. Major portions of the
payload design and fabrication were carried out at the Los Alamos National
Laboratory in New Mexico and at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.

Additional information is available on the Internet at:

http://genesismission.jpl.nasa.gov

and

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov.

SpaceRef staff editor.