NASA Genesis Mission Status Update August 22, 2003

Status Report From: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Posted: Thursday, August 28, 2003

image The Genesis spacecraft continues its mission collecting solar wind material expelled from the Sun. Telemetry from the Genesis spacecraft indicates that all spacecraft subsystems are reporting nominal operation.

There are three collector arrays aboard Genesis that are exposed to, or hidden from, the solar wind. One collector array for each of the three solar wind regimes. Which collector array is exposed is determined by the data received by sensitive ion and electron monitors located on the spacecraft's equipment deck. These monitors scrutinize the solar wind passing by the spacecraft and relay this information to the onboard computer, which in turn commands the collector arrays to deploy and retract as needed. Recent solar activity has called for a fifty/50 split of array activity. The `high solar speed' collector array to be deployed 50% of the time, and the E-Array, which handles coronal mass ejections, was unshaded for the remaining 50% of the time.

There have been two concentrator rejection grid resets in the last week. A reset occurs when voltage running through the fine wires forming a rejection grid in the front of the spacecraft's sample concentrator sags below the intended voltage. The grid carries a positive charge in order to deflect hydrogen ions while allowing heavier oxygen ions to pass through. That concentrates oxygen, in proportion to hydrogen, reaching a collector tile. On both occasions, the spacecraft's systems successfully returned the voltage to its desired level within an hour.

The July 26 issue of "New Scientist" contains a comprehensive article on the Genesis mission and the extraordinary mid-air recovery technique that will be used upon its return.

Genesis Vital Statistics:

  • 745 days since launch.
  • 224 days to planned completion of solar particle collection.
  • 382 days to Genesis return to Earth.

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