Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Space NASA Science

Crashed Spacecraft Yields Data on Solar Wind 44

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the best-of-a-bad-situation dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "After the Genesis mission spent 27 months in space gathering tiny samples from different types of solar wind, Hollywood stunt pilots swooped in with a helicopter to catch the falling capsule when it returned to earth. Unfortunately the spacecraft's parachute did not open, and the spacecraft ploughed a hole into the desert. Now scientists are starting to recover data from the salvageable pieces of Genesis. Nature Magazine reports that an analysis of isotopes of neon and argon shows that the elements of main interest to the researchers have the same isotopic signature in the solar wind as in the Sun itself. Because dirt contains relatively little neon and argon, the current Science study wasn't affected too much by contamination and the the team remains hopeful that they will be able to get results on oxygen and nitrogen isotopes from the mission."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Crashed Spacecraft Yields Data on Solar Wind

Comments Filter:
  • I'll never forget that crashed UFO in a crater picture [space.com]. Bravo for the humpty dumpty project's success!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by lixlpixel (747466)

      i remember reading the thread on fark [fark.com] and laughing so hard, that i had tears running down my face...

      scroll halfway down - it's comedy in realtime

    • by pallmall1 (882819)

      I'll never forget that crashed UFO in a crater picture.
      It looks like a turd waiting to be painted gold.

      Yeah, the instruments and samples were so delicate that the researchers were afraid that a parachute landing would be too hard and destroy the samples. But, but, wait! We really didn't need the helicopters.

      And parachutes? We don't need no stinking parachutes!.
  • by ClubStew (113954) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @12:26PM (#21055909)
    Surely it picked up alien spores that are now loose in our deserts. Isn't this how many bad sci-fi movies begin?!
  • Because dirt contains relatively little neon and argon, the current Science study wasn't affected too much by contamination and the the team remains hopeful that they will be able to get results on oxygen and nitrogen isotopes from the mission.

    ...Because, of course, air contains relatively little oxygen and nitrogen, right?



    Also, one peeve - You only capitalize "science" if speaking about the magazine.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wizardforce (1005805)
      argon makes up about 1% of our atmosphere while neon takes up a smaller amount of our air. though I suspect that the gas was contained enough so that had enough to sample sections that had little or no visible contamination. had there been any real significant contamination from gases in our air, it is just as likely that the gases in the samples escaped, thus there wouldn't be much to sample. in addition to that, we know the general composition of the sun which shouldn't deviate too much from the compos
      • by pallmall1 (882819)

        in addition to that, we know the general composition of the sun which shouldn't deviate too much from the composition of soalr wind so if we find something statistically off about the oxygen/nitrogen composition then we know that it is likely that the samples were contaminated.

        In other words, if they find only what they expect (or want) to find, they can conclude that the samples are valid? Or, conversely, if they find something that is different than their theories predict, they can conclude that the sam

        • Why did they even bother to launch the probe?

          we know from the light spectrum of the sun what elements are in the sun and what amounts of each, pinpointing the isotopic composition however is more difficult. what I meant by the part

          if we find something statistically off about the oxygen/nitrogen composition then we know that it is likely that the samples were contaminated.

          was that if we find that the sample consists of mainly oxygen and nitrogen with little hydrogen or helium, it isn't likely to be part of

        • Re:Brilliant! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by lexarius (560925) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @02:27PM (#21056827)

          Why did they even bother to launch the probe?
          Because they weren't planning to smash it into the ground, possibly contaminating the sample? It did crash, though, and with all the money they spent on it, they're working diligently to get what they can out of it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by nusuth (520833)

          in addition to that, we know the general composition of the sun which shouldn't deviate too much from the composition of soalr wind so if we find something statistically off about the oxygen/nitrogen composition then we know that it is likely that the samples were contaminated.

          In other words, if they find only what they expect (or want) to find, they can conclude that the samples are valid? Or, conversely, if they find something that is different than their theories predict, they can conclude that the samples must be contaminated?

          Obviously, we also know the composition of the atmosphere. If the isotope ratios are different from solar wind and they are actually more similar to terrestrial sources, the scientists might conclude the samples are contaminated while they are not. In all other cases, the analysis will produce correct results.

    • The magazine it is (Score:3, Informative)

      by l2718 (514756)
      TFA explains that they are publishing a series of papers. The quoted paragraph is about results on Neon and Argon which were published in Science. Other results were published elsewhere, such as Space Science Reviews.
    • There are probably several isotopes in the atmosphere, and several that aren't. If you find a lot of certain isotopes that are rare locally, then it's reasonable to suggest that it had come from elsewhere.
    • by Maxmin (921568)

      Because dirt contains relatively little neon and argon, the current Science study wasn't affected too much by contamination and the the team remains hopeful that they will be able to get results on oxygen and nitrogen isotopes from the mission.
      ...Because, of course, air contains relatively little solar oxygen and nitrogen isotopes, right?

      There, fixed that for you.

  • by v1 (525388) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @01:33PM (#21056383) Homepage Journal
    I found it interesting that the article describes how Murphy's Law was not as general as most of us know it, stating more specifically that things that can be installed backwards eventually will be installed backwards, and that this is precisely what caused the parachutes to fail to deploy.

    Also can't say that I knew Murphy was a "rocket scientist", literally. How ironic. You'd think NASA would have learned from him by now?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      Also can't say that I knew Murphy was a "rocket scientist", literally. How ironic. You'd think NASA would have learned from him by now?

      Only a fool believes that Murphy can be circumvented - in the long run he always wins.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      NASA thought they understood Murphy's Law correctly - that's why they delibertely installed the parachute backwards.
  • KHAAAAAAN! (Score:4, Funny)

    by cnettel (836611) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @01:47PM (#21056479)
    Genesis was no failure. Dr. Marcus was indeed very proud over it.
    • by dkleinsc (563838)
      No, obviously this didn't work at all: There was no Genesis effect, otherwise I wouldn't be able to write this.
  • Solar wind comes from the sun, so why should the particles be any different than the measurements taken from the sun? It is nice to confirm that solar wind really comes from the sun, but hasn't that been confirmed a long time ago by simply looking at the direction of the flow?
  • NASA's big Divot (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheHawke (237817) <rchapin.pelicancoast@net> on Saturday October 20, 2007 @02:57PM (#21057087)
    I watched it on NASA TV when it came in. It had a pretty good wobble, coming in at a 90 degree angle relative to the earth. Folks had kinda figured that it was going to do a pretty good job of splattering itself on the desert floor. Was a pretty good surprise when it just dug a divot and stayed pretty much intact. Some folks think that most of the lake beds are hard as rocks through and through. Some are not so.
    Back in the 60's, legends Chuck Yeager and Neil Armstrong took a Beech twin up for some landing practice on some of the salt flats. Neil set up on a approach for one such flat, on his judgment that it was dry and stable.. Yeager, being the "desert rat" knew of certain flats that stay muddy under the salt crusts, and the one they set up to land was just that. He told Neil that he should abort and go find another flat. Neil, being the analytical computer, declared that it would hold. The Beech's tires touched down on the crust, and proceeded to keep going down into the muddy substrate, sinking up to the struts, coming to a halt.
    So the Beech sat there shaking and vibrating, engines going at full throttle. Chuck, ever being the wisecracking pilot turned and said to Armstrong "I told you so". Neil turned to respond, and his computer for a brain clicked and went kerCHUNK! He had nothing to say in return. They hiked to another flat so a DC3 could pick them up on the run.
    • Armstrong with nothing to say? He was an awesome choice for first man on moon, but I wish that he felt some kind of obligation to talk about it more. He basically said thanks for the trip, now I'm going to retire leave me alone k thx bye.

      He's an inspiring man, I just wish he'd talk about it more.
      • by TheHawke (237817)
        They were hired to do a job, not get blasted by the limelight. Most of the astronaut corps is like that. They got work to do, not play reporter.
  • "They've switched back to metric again without telling us."
  • "Because dirt contains relatively little neon and argon, the current Science study wasn't affected too much by contamination and the the team remains hopeful that they will be able to get results on oxygen and nitrogen isotopes from the mission."

    Does the "Five-second Rule" apply here?

Someone is unenthusiastic about your work.

Working...