THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Genesis Spacecraft Launches From Cape Canaveral In 2001

By  //  August 8, 2018

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Launched August 8, 2001

ABOVE VIDEO: The Genesis spacecraft launched on this day (August 8) in 2001 from Cape Canaveral.

BREVARD COUNTY • CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – The Genesis spacecraft launched on this day August 8 in 2001 from Cape Canaveral.

Its mission was to observe the solar wind and capture particles to return them to Earth.

The solar wind streams out of the outer layer of the Sun. Scientists sent Genesis in the expectation that the samples of the solar wind could be used to track past and present changes in our solar system.

By orbiting Lagrange Point 1, a location between Earth and the Sun (about 1.5 million kilometers or 1 million miles from Earth), for more than two years, Genesis was able to use specially-made collectors to obtain a variety of discrete solar wind samples.

Unfortunately, on returning to Earth (in September 2004) the parachutes on the sample return capsule failed to deploy. Rather than being gently snatched in the air by waiting helicopters, the capsule smashed into the ground at the landing site in Utah.

Amazingly, the samples largely survived the impact and were transported to Johnson Space Center for curation. Samples were distributed to scientists around the world for analysis. This research has led to several important scientific insights into questions related to planetary materials or cosmochemistry.

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