Encyclopedia Astronautica

American solar satellite. One launch, 2001.08.08. Genesis was part of NASA's Discovery program. Its objective was to fly to the Earth-Sun L1 point and spend two years collecting samples of the solar wind.

A follow on to such experiments as the solar wind collectors exposed on the Moon by Apollo astronauts, Genesis would allow scientists to determine the chemical and isotopic composition of the Sun. The collected samples were to be physically returned to Earth (air-snatch recovery over Utah) and analyzed in ground-based laboratories. Among the goals were to study why the oxygen isotopic composition seems to vary in the solar system, accurate measurement of argon, xenon and neon abundances, and isotope ratio abundance measurements accurate to one percent for a broad range of elements.

The spacecraft and sample return capsule were built by Lockheed Martin Astronautics; mass was 494 kg dry (including the 220 kg return capsule), 636 kg at launch. The craft was 1.3 m high with a 1.52 m diameter capsule, and had a 6.8 m span when deployed. The vehicle was to enter a 6-month-period halo orbit around L1 with a radius of 800,000 km when it arrived on station. The craft carried a monopropellant hydrazine propulsion system, and a sample return capsule with deployable sample collection plates and an ion concentrator that rejected protons (80 percent of the solar wind) in favor of trace elements.

The wide angle collector was a circular mosaic of one meter diameter consisting of many hexagonal tiles made of diamond, gold, ultra-pure silicon, sapphire, aluminum or germanium. All kinds of ions were to be implanted in the wide angle collector whereas the carbon, nitrogen and oxygen ions were to be focused onto the concentrated-ion collector made up of hexagonal shaped diamond or silicon carbide tiles. The focused enhancement of these ions was necessary since the collecting wafers may contain nontrivial amounts of earthly contamination of these elements. This focusing was enabled by a parabolic mirror, with the positive voltages confined to numerous tiny segments on its surface. The paraboloid was to focus very little of the solar light/heat. A total of 10-20 micrograms of ions were to be collected by both collectors during the 30 months of exposure. The ion spectrometer was to monitor all species with energy greater than about 1 keV, and the electron spectrometer the smaller energy range electrons. (The solar wind speed was about 400 km/s and the protons in it were at about 1.0 keV with the heavier ions and the electrons having energies proportional to their masses.) The spectrometer data were to be telemetered in the S-band, and the re-entering sample canister was to parachute over Utah state in early September 2004, where it was to be grabbed by a helicopter.

The Project Scientist and Principal Investigator for Genesis was Donald Burnett, California Institute of Technology, and the Lead Investigator for the concentrated-ion collector and the two spectrometers was Roger Wiens of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The returned samples was to be stored at Johnson Space Center for analysis and distribution. The Project Manager for the mission was Chester Sasaki of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Gross mass: 636 kg (1,402 lb).
First Launch: 2001.08.08.
Number: 1 .

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Associated Countries
See also
  • Delta The Delta launch vehicle was America's longest-lived, most reliable, and lowest-cost space launch vehicle. Development began in 1955 and it continued in service in the 21st Century despite numerous candidate replacements. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Delta 7326-9.5 American orbital launch vehicle. Four stage vehicle consisting of 3 x GEM-40 + 1 x EELT Thor/RS-27A + 1 x Delta K + 1 x Star 37FM with 2.9 m (9.5 foot) diameter fairing) More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • JPL American agency;manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, USA. More...
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • Discovery The Discovery program was begun by NASA in the early 1990s as the planetary counterpart to the Explorer program. More...

  • NASA Report, Genesis Launch Press Kit, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Genesis Sample Return Press Kit, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Genesis SolarWind Sample Return Mission, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Genesis Mission Overview Fact Sheet, Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC17A Delta launch complex. Part of a dual launch pad complex built for the Thor ballistic missile program in 1956. Pad 17A supported Thor, Delta, and Delta II launches into the 21st Century. More...

Genesis Chronology

2001 August 8 - . 16:13 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. Launch Pad: SLC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Delta 7326-9.5. LV Configuration: Delta 7326-9.5 D287.
  • Genesis - . Payload: Discovery 5. Mass: 636 kg (1,402 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA; JPL. Manufacturer: Martin. Program: Discovery. Class: Astronomy. Type: Solar astronomy satellite. Spacecraft: Genesis. USAF Sat Cat: 26884 . COSPAR: 2001-034A. Apogee: 1,175,513 km (730,428 mi). Perigee: 213,681 km (132,774 mi). Inclination: 28.0000 deg. Period: 97,345.15 min. Launch delayed from February 10 and July 30. The Genesis probe flew to the Earth-Sun L1 Lagrangian point and spend two years collecting samples of the solar wind. The collected samples were to be physically returned to Earth in a sample return capsule (air-snatch recovery was planned over Utah) and analysed in ground-based laboratories. The first burn of the Delta second stage put Genesis in a 185 x 197 km x 28.5 deg parking orbit at 1624 GMT. At 1712 GMT a second burn raised the orbit to 182 x 3811 km, and at 1713 GMT the third stage fired to put Genesis on its trajectory to L1 with a nominal apogee of around 1.2 million km. By the first week of November 2001 Genesis arrived at the Earth-Sun L1 point. A malfunctioning thermal radiator caused some concern for the health of the sample return capsule's critical battery, which was overheating, but Genesis began collecting solar wind samples on schedule.

    On September 8, 2004, the Genesis space probe became the first spacecraft to return from beyond lunar orbit to the Earth's surface. The Genesis Sample Return Capsule separated from the spacecraft on September 8, 66,000 km above the Earth. The capsule successfully re-entered the atmosphere over Oregon at 11 km/s, but a wiring error resulted in the drogue parachute release mortar failing to fire at 33 km altitude. The capsule crashed to earth at 90 m/s in the Dugway Proving Ground at 40 07 40 N 113 30 29 W. Although the vehicle was smashed, some of the samples could be retrieved.

2001 November 16 - .
  • Genesis, L1 Orbit Insertion - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Genesis.

2004 April 1 - .
  • Genesis, End of Science Collection - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Genesis.

2004 May 1 - .
  • Genesis, Earth Flyby, Successful - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Genesis.

2004 September 8 - .
  • Genesis, Return To Earth - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Genesis.

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