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  NASA's Genesis sample return capsule impact

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Author Topic:   NASA's Genesis sample return capsule impact
nasamad
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posted 09-08-2004 12:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nasamad   Click Here to Email nasamad     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Watching live, 17.00 GMT, NASA's Genesis sample return mission has impacted the desert floor with no sign of either drogue or parafoil deployment.

Sad day for many dedicated people.

DavidH
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posted 09-08-2004 12:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidH   Click Here to Email DavidH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA Genesis
Genesis Mission Status Report

The Genesis sample return capsule entered Earth's atmosphere at 9:52:47 a.m. MDT and entered the preplanned entry ellipse in the Utah Test and Training Range as predicted. However, the Genesis capsule, as a result of its parachute not deploying, impacted the ground at a speed of 311 kilometers per hour (193 mph). The impact occurred near Granite Peak on a remote portion of the range. No people or structures were anywhere near the area.

"We have the capsule," said Genesis project manager Don Sweetnam of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "It is on the ground. We have previously written procedures and tools at our disposal for such an event. We are beginning capsule recovery operations at this time."

By the time the capsule entered Earth's atmosphere, the flight crews tasked to capture Genesis were already in the air. Once it was confirmed the capsule touched down out on the range, the flight crews were guided toward the site to initiate a previously developed contingency plan. They landed close to the capsule and per the plan, began to document the capsule and the area.

"For the velocity of the impact, I thought there was surprisingly little damage," said Roy Haggard of Vertigo Inc., Lake Elsinore, Calif., who took part in the initial reconnaissance of the capsule. "I observed the capsule penetrated the soil about 50 percent of its diameter. The shell had been breached about three inches and I could see the science canister inside and that also appeared to have a small breach," he said.

The safety of recovery personnel has been the top priority. The capsule's separation charge had to be confirmed safe before the capsule could be moved. The recovery team is in the process of preparing to move the capsule to a clean room.

The Genesis mission was launched in August 2001 on a journey to capture samples from the storehouse of 99 percent of all the material in our solar system -- the sun. The samples of solar wind particles, collected on ultra-pure wafers of gold, sapphire, silicon and diamond were designed to be returned for analysis by Earth-bound scientists.

Spacebug
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posted 09-08-2004 12:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacebug   Click Here to Email Spacebug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very sad loss indeed.

Rodina
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posted 09-08-2004 12:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rodina   Click Here to Email Rodina     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Damn.

FFrench
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posted 09-08-2004 01:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is still some hope... right now the aeroshell looks like it might still be intact. NASA press conference in less than an hour should hopefully tell us.

FFrench
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posted 09-08-2004 01:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maybe not... contrary to the first reports, latest images show a split — but perhaps some samples may be saved.

nojnj
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posted 09-08-2004 01:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nojnj   Click Here to Email nojnj     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very disappointing. It seems more individuals are remembering NASA's problems a lot longer than its successes. It sure doesn't need the negative publicity. I miss the days when NASA was supported the way it should be.

nojnj
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posted 09-08-2004 01:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nojnj   Click Here to Email nojnj     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great footage on NASA TV showing the descent.

spaceuk
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posted 09-08-2004 02:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Although it would be a shame if the samples have been 'lost' — though having seen some early tv footage it looks like some may be recoverable.

However, the Genesis mission should be viewed a 'success' in that all other aspects of the mission were accomplished including those dramatic loops around the lagrange points and the final entry into earth's atmosphere.

Stardust in Jan. 2005 can perhaps redeem some of the lost glory.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-08-2004 04:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was interested that during the press conference it was said that shovels would be used to dig out the spacecraft. I realize the first and foremost priority for the scientists involved must be to recover what ever science on-board the spacecraft is salvageable, but I wonder how often it is that we get the chance to study an impact crater from an object returning from space unaided. Unfortunately no one asked during the conference (and I couldn't get over to NASA HQ in time) to query if the impact crater itself was going to be documented before its own destruction retrieving the capsule.

Another question that came to mind this afternoon: during the conference they said that this scenario (crash landing) was one of the situations they had planned for; I wonder if another had been knowing before reentry began that the parachutes wouldn't deploy and if so, if they would have done anything differently?

Rizz
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posted 09-08-2004 04:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rizz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
...maybe another set of chutes?

I don't view this as a failure as much as a incomplete mission.

Putting things into perspective, the crews and craft performed a phenomenal feat, and should be very proud of the accomplishments achieved.

Bravo!

FFrench
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posted 09-08-2004 04:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rizz:
Putting things into perspective, the crews and craft performed a phenomenal feat, and should be very proud of the accomplishments achieved.
Well put. I've just been doing TV interviews about it here at the Science Center — the media usually likes to spin these events as a "disaster/embarrassment for NASA" — and I stressed to them just what you said.

Danno
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posted 09-08-2004 09:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Danno   Click Here to Email Danno     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
...but I wonder how often it is that we get the chance to study an impact crater from an object returning from space unaided.
Robert, since the spaceship was only traveling ~200 mph when it impacted, the crater wouldn't be very interesting.

Out at the Kwajalein Missile Range (KMR) they occasionally have land impacts of ICBM re-entry vehicles traveling ~mach 25 and there are craters aplenty to study.

Rizz
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posted 09-08-2004 10:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rizz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Danno:
Out at the Kwajalein Missile Range (KMR) they occasionally have land impacts of ICBM re-entry vehicles traveling ~mach 25 and there are craters aplenty to study.
Are you sure about that?

Kwaj is a pretty small island. It is my understanding that most rocket bodies traveling at that speed (Mach 25) burn up upon re-entry and the debris field impact zones are usually in the ocean, away from people.

I could be wrong though.

Rodina
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posted 09-09-2004 01:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rodina   Click Here to Email Rodina     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is no way there will ever be a backup parachute on something like this. That's a lot of weight for the chute, the lines, the control and the charge -- all of which can be better used for other stuff.

I just can't recall a chute ever failing like this -- unless, maybe, that's what happened to Mars Polar Lander.

Rizz
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posted 09-09-2004 01:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rizz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rodina:
There is no way there will ever be a backup parachute on something like this.
Well, they did the really hard part already -

Seems like some sort of a redundant system to insure a soft landing would have been in order.

The soviets have got thier version of a 'soft landing' figured out.

SpaceAholic
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posted 09-09-2004 02:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
...the craft only impacted at 192 MPH even without the chutes opening... that's a tremendous amount of energy already dissipated from the 20K plus miles per hour it was traveling upon reentry by simple atmospheric drag on the capsule... why not a capsule which as an inherent characteristic of the re-entry vehicle shape, exchanges decent energy for lift (like the ROTON) ...such a design could even be snagged by a conventional aircraft.

I am just stunned that in the absence of the drogue and primary chutes, the capsule did not overshoot the target landing site.

phase pistol
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posted 09-09-2004 04:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for phase pistol     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Eerily reminiscent of the SCOOP satellite return in 1969, which caused the tragedy in Piedmont, New Mexico.

See Project Wildfire documents for more info on that one.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-09-2004 04:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rodina:
I just can't recall a chute ever failing like this -- unless, maybe, that's what happened to Mars Polar Lander.

When discussing parachute failures, Soyuz 1 comes to mind. The drogue chute deployed but the main chute failed; Komarov deployed the reserve chute but it became tangled with the drogue. Different failure than Genesis of course, but both involving failed chute deployments.

FFrench
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posted 09-09-2004 11:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One thing JPL will probably be looking at closely is the Stardust mission, now heading back to Earth and also designed to use a parachute for sample return. It is a slightly different method - hopefully different enough to avoid a repeat - but I am sure they are thinking about possible troubleshoots/contingencies.

Danno
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posted 09-09-2004 11:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Danno   Click Here to Email Danno     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rizz:
Are you sure about that?
Keep in mind that these are re-entry vehicles (RVs) not rocket bodies. They are designed to survive the heat of the atmosphere. Von Braun and his team were using ablative surfaces to develop ICBMs while they were still in White Sands.

While Kwajalein is indeed a small islad, it is part of the largest atoll in the world. When RVs are launched towards it from Vandenberg they usually target water impact sites where the airframe is destroyed on impact. But on rare occasions they target one of the islands, Illiginni, which is much smaller than Kwaj.

The nuclear warheads are replaced with depleted uranium to keep the mass properties the same and a non-explosive impact at those speeds has enough kinetic energy to light up the night sky!

Anyway, I was watching Genesis wobble to Earth and thought they were lucky it was so light and un-aerodynamic as that is what slowed it down considerably.

Rizz
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posted 09-09-2004 01:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rizz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I stand corrected - thanks Dan.

Glint
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posted 09-09-2004 05:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by phase pistol:
Eerily reminiscent of the SCOOP satellite return in 1969, which caused the tragedy in Piedmont, New Mexico.
Karl, when I saw the video of the cracked hull I too was reminded of the Andromeda Strain and thought to myself, "Life, meet Art."

Blackarrow
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posted 09-09-2004 06:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Watching the TV coverage of Genesis falling to Earth, I couldn't help wondering if Beagle 2 suffered a similar fate.

Of course, there is a big difference: NASA has the wreckage of Genesis to examine for answers. Beagle's fate will probably never be known (at least not in the life-time of anyone reading this!)

nojnj
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posted 09-09-2004 10:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nojnj   Click Here to Email nojnj     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am glad we are a society that still tries to escape the bonds of earth. I would rather be part of a race that at least tried and accomplished much with some setbacks, than not to have tried at all.

cspg
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posted 11-07-2013 08:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There was a (horror) movie based on this mission (the crash landing part) but also overlaps the Stardust mission. See "Monsters" (2010) at IMDB.

Not a masterpiece in the space or horror genre but watchable. It was fun to see the Ares I test flight broadcast on the hotel tv room the main characters stayed at while waiting to get back to the U.S.

Glint
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posted 11-07-2013 10:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, and then there was Michael Crichton's classic Andromeda Strain, which was decades ahead of its time.

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