Wednesday, September 08, 2004

The sample return capsule from the Genesis probe crashed into the ground! It seems likely that the sudden decelaration will severely damage the sample. Of course NASA will still try to salavage something. But for the time being, they're worrying about approaching a capsule with a live mortar round that was supposed to fire (to open the parachute), but apparently didn't. Link to story Posted by Hello


Blogger finou said...

What I found the funniest about that story was that they hired Hollywood stunt pilots to catch the probe after the parachute was supposed to open. They were worried that even with the parachute opening it would still fall too hard and damage samples... I guess we can safely say that samples have been damaged now?

9/09/2004 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

I'm no expert, but I beleive the particles where being trapped in a very low density aerogel. The "tracks" where the particle burned through the material was supposed to reveal the particle's velocity (direction and speed). It would seem to me that that information would likely be degraded (at best). I also heard that something cracked open on landing. I'm not sure exactly what and I don't know the details of the design, but that raises the obvious concern about contamination. Assuming that the contamination isn't too large I suspect that this could likely be worked around (e.g., depth particle penetrated into gel, discarding nitrogen molecules). However, you can imagine that some of the rarer particles might now become lost in the noise. So they still may be able to get something useful out. Alternatively, if the aerogels slammed into the walls of the container and now the particles are just somewhere on the walls of the debris, then it could be very difficult to recover useful science. So basically, we'll have to wait and see what they find.

9/09/2004 10:50:00 PM  

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