Genesis contents usable, scientists say

September 11, 2004|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

Most of the contents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Genesis space probe appear to be intact and usable despite the craft's crash landing in the Utah desert, researchers said yesterday.

"We should be able to meet many, if not all, of our science goals," said Roger C. Wiens, co-principal investigator of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The $264 million mission was designed to gather components of solar wind and return them to Earth for analysis. Scientists think the materials are remnants of the original cloud of gas and dust that formed the solar system and might provide insight into how the solar system was formed.

The team's hopes seemed to be dashed Wednesday when the capsule's parachute failed to open during the return and it crashed into the desert floor at nearly 200 mph, rupturing both its external and internal canisters and exposing their contents to contamination.

But later examination indicated that damage was not as bad as had been feared.

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