This sounded promising.
DUGWAY PROVING GROUND, Utah (AP) – A space capsule holding atoms collected from solar wind was en route to a tricky rendezvous with Earth, offering scientists the first material NASA has brought back from space in nearly three decades.
A pair of helicopters helmed by stunt pilots were set to hover nearly a mile above the Utah desert, ready to help snatch the refrigerator-sized capsule’s parachute with a hook as it floats down at 400 feet a minute, or more than 6 feet per second.
“All systems are go,” Don Sevilla, Genesis payload recovery leader, said Tuesday when the capsule was 134,000 miles above the Earth’s surface. If all goes as planned, the mid-air capture was to take place Wednesday.
The capsule’s charged atoms – a “billion billion” of them – should reveal clues about the origin and evolution of our solar system, said Don Burnett, Genesis principal investigator and a nuclear geochemist at California Institute of Technology.
“We have for years wanted to know the composition of the sun,” Burnett said. “In some cases we will be analyzing it one atom at a time.”
So how did it all turn out? Not good. Not good at all…