Genesis Capsule Crashes

Didn’t see this anywhere on Chiefdelphi yet, but the Genesis space capsule, designed to orbit the sun, collect solar wind particles, and return to Earth has failed to deploy it’s parachute, and crashed into the Utah desert.

CNN and MSNBC have some pretty good coverage on it.

The atoms collected were intended to help scientists learn about the origins of the sun, and our solar system. This is a great loss to science worldwide, and while no humans were harmed, here’s hoping at least some good science can be recovered!

This may get a little political (warning):

Alright, so NASA fails. This is rocket science, remember, and even with excellent astrophysicists/engineers like Dave Lavery, faliures can occurr. It will just take a few million dollars to go up, but with the budget defecit, that’s tough.

Why don’t we just fund nasa, get out of Iraq, tax the rich by an additional two percent and we can have all the miraculous NASA based science we want.

P.S. If you Like Bush, thats Your opinion. Please don’t give me negative reps for this. Thanks. We could have had a million of these things searching all over the gallexy if we wern’t in this war.

I still stick with my philosophy that if all the world governments (or at least, the major powers) chose to disband the majority of their armies to the point where invading another country just isn’t feasible, but still have enough forces to deal with counter-terrorism, joint defense, joint peacekeeping, and to deal with natural disasters and the like… that the world might just be a safer, better place…

I mean, it’ll never happen I’m sure…

But comon, what if? roffle… if the US went and did something like that; slashed it’s military in half… I still don’t think they’d ever be attacked… the world is much to dependant on capitalism now… and let’s face it… if America gets screwed, well, so does the rest of the world… not to mention that half the planet would probably aid the states if that happened (Hell, even the Russians are practically allies)

Been working for Canada so far, right? :wink:

Imagine the money saved worldwide that could be used for other endeavours…

Yes true, the militaries create jobs and whatnot and technological development… not saying we should stop that… just… greatly reduce the feasibility of invading another country…

lolk… mindless wishful thinking, I assure you.

Having a debate on another forum right now aboot completely slashing NASA’s extraterrestial budgets and just funding earth-science projects that they work on. PFFT.

The only reason that it has worked for Canada is that everyone knows that if they invade Canada then they would be next to the US and the US won’t let that happen. BTW we do have 3 planes, 2 tanks and a tug boat. :smiley:

Excuse me, but what the heck does the parachute not deploying have to do with Iraq?


Can we get back on topic. My new physics teacher worked at NASA and is extremely exiced, or was, about this. Oh well, hope he isn’t in a bad mood tomorrow…


Can we get back on topic. My new physics teacher worked at NASA and is extremely exiced, or was, about this. Oh well, hope he isn’t in a bad mood tomorrow…

Why is everybody so glum about this being a failure. The paracute didn’t deploy and thats all that happened. NASA knew this was a likely possibility and at this point no one knows if any of the data is destroyed.

Alright, so the parachute was a failure. Nobody’s contesting that. (If I read correctly, they had two Hollywood stunt helicopter pilots in the area ready to snag the probe in mid-air, which really puts my doubts on the parachute anyway.)

However, let’s not count our lost chickens before they’re hatched. If they can recover even a part of the atoms collected, then we’re getting somewhere. Just cross your fingers, hold your breath, and hope they release more news before you pass out from a lack of oxygen.

I’ve been following this mission for a little over a month now, and from what I gather, the probe was supposed to begin rotating to stabilize it’s entry, pop it’s parachute once a certain amount of acceleration was experienced, then get snatched up by the helicoptors (they were actually the main tool for recovery, not just an emergency plan, though they were piloted by stunt pilots who trained for 5 years just on this mission).

One comment on Slashdot intruiged me though- if the trigger mechanism for the parachute was a single-axis accelerometer, and something odd happened on re-entry (came in at the wrong vector or some other random variable), the accelerometer may have never felt the required force to deploy the parachute. In that case, would it have been possible to implement some kind of ground control override? Send up an RF signal to force the parachute to deploy?

I know it wasn’t a “critical to human existance” type mission, but it was a lot of time and energy put forth from many talented people, and the results could have (or may still) help us determine our place in the galaxy, and our star’s relationship with other stars. Personally, I find that pretty cool, and hope there enough survived the crash to make it all worth while.

Just a few quick data points:

  • all we know so far is that the neither the drogue or main parachutes deployed, and it appears that the deployment mortar never fired to push the parachutes out of the spacecraft. We do not yet know why the mortar did not fire.

  • the parachutes were designed to slow the spacecraft to a descent rate of approximately 9mph. The spacecraft design was capable of protecting the sample cannister if the spacecraft impacted the surface at this speed. However, to minimize the potential for damage, the primary recovery plan was to perform an “aerial snatch” during the descent in which the parachutes would be snagged by a hook suspended from a helicopter, and then slowly lowered to the ground.

  • during the descent, as the spacecraft comes into camera range it is precessing noticably. This motion degrades into a flat spin by the time of impact.

  • the spacecraft hit the ground at about 190mph, and broke open on impact. A large impact crater is evident at the site. The exterior backshell is has been severely fractured, and the interior of the spacecraft is exposed.

  • it is unknown at this time if the sample cannister has been breached. If the samples have been exposed to the atmosphere they will be highly contaminated. In that event, it is likely that all sceince wll be lost.

More to come…


My teacher would love to hear this dave, thanks again for the inside scoop.

Truely a shame. The AIAA chapter here at WPI was watching the whole thing live, and were shocked by how non-plussed the commentators and mission control people were during the whole thing. We didn’t even realize anything had gone wrong until they showed the show of it imbedded in the ground.

NBC News had the best line about the mission: they said the probe should’ve been named Icarus, after the man who flew close to the sun and then crashed to earth.

By the way, am I the only one who thinks that this picture would be great for the UFO conspiracy nuts?](
Click for larger image

No you are not! :wink:

This is yet another screw up by NASA. What I don’t understand is how in the universe would NASA be able to plant 2 rovers on Mars, a planet we know just a little about, and NOT be able to land safely a small capsule with solar data on it on this very Earth? It’s the planet we live on. It just seems obsurd.

To give them credit (sort of), they managed to mess up quite a few times on Mars, also…

Does anyone have any idea how large that capsule is (maybe the diameter of the heat shield)? Because it seems pretty amazing for a capsule to be that well intact if its anything more than a foot or two in diamater…

I saw an image of it with a guy next to it. Can’t find it now. It’s about 5 feet in diameter.

The rumor around building 198 is that the Li/SO2 battery may have passivated and couldn’t provide enough charge to fire the pyros. I also heard that what cratered into the Utah desert isn’t the Genesis payload, but the UFO that collided with the “real” Genesis payload on descent.


I thought the samples were expected to be “embedded” in the collection disks, and would thus be slightly protected from contamination by simple exposure to air (and/or dirt). They’re not going to be the pristine samples of solar wind they ought to have been, of course, but there should still be plenty of useful information to be gotten.]( - NASA seeks to recover Genesis capsule - Sep 8, 2004)
Click on image for CNN’s coverage

^^ There’s a pretty cool animation of what the helicopters would have done, had the parachutes deployed. Check it out.

From another forum:](