Photographers take aim as the Boeing Delta II rocket propels NASA’s Genesis spacecraft into the sky on a journey to collect and return to Earth just 10 to 20 micrograms of solar wind, invisible charged particles that flow outward from the Sun.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA
In the Beginning... (Updated!)
News story originally written on August 14, 2001
On August 8, 2001, NASA launched the next of its robotic space missions
: The Genesis mission. Genesis had a perfect launch aboard its Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral. Everything with the mission continues to go smoothly. The Genesis spacecraft is now traveling toward the Sun
and will assume an orbit around L1
, a position in space where the gravitational pulls from the Earth
and Sun are balanced.
Once in position, the Genesis craft will open collector arrays and begin to capture particles that make up the solar wind. These particles are tiny, charged bits of matter than have been expelled by the Sun. In April, 2004, after almost three years of collecting material, the spacecraft will return to Earth. The collected solar material will be recovered in a dramatic, mid-air helicopter capture, so that the impact of landing does not damage the samples. The Genesis mission will be the first mission to collect and return material from beyond the orbit of the Moon.
Studying these particles should help answer fundamental questions about the exact composition of the Sun and about the birth of our solar system. The mission should provide enough material to last for decades of research, which means that further studies of the Sun and its composition will also be possible.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology
, rocks and minerals
, and Earth system science
You might also be interested in:
It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more
The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 2:19 p.m. EST, October 29th. The sky was clear and the weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit for the Unitied...more
A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more
Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials are demanding an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting...more
During a period of about two days in early May, 1998, the ACE spacecraft was immersed in plasma associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME). The SWICS instrument on ACE, which determines unambiguously...more
J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service has referred to forests as the "heart and lungs of the world." Forests reduce soil erosion, maintain water quality, contribute to atmospheric humidity and cloud...more
In late April through mid-May 2002, all five naked-eye planets are visible simultaneously in the night sky! This is includes Mercury which is generally very hard to see because of its proximity to the...more