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When Bad Landings Happen to Good Spacecrafts [Sep. 8th, 2004|01:29 pm]
[Current Mood |crushedcrushed]

Somewhere in the Utah desert:

(click for QT video)

Damn. The official term for this is a "spacecraft contingency" event. (Only because NASA officials aren't supposed to swear openly.)

That's the remains of the Genesis spacecraft, which was returning from a mission to study the solar wind. Scientists are holding out hope that they can retrieve some uncontaminated samples and science information.

It was in flight for four years. They managed to sling it back to Earth and land in the exact part of the Utah desert they were aiming for. (Which, if you think about the time and distances involved, is staggering.) The chutes simply did not deploy.

[User Picture]From: marko_the_rat
2004-09-08 10:26 pm (UTC)
I love the expression on your icon! It complements the video perfectly. I hope they do still get some useful samples from it though. It would be a shame to go all this way for nothing.
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[User Picture]From: stego_s_aurus
2004-09-08 11:19 pm (UTC)
The wacky thing about that refridgerator-sized item is how much of a crashed flying-saucer it looks like: with it buried in the sand like that, it almost looks like the saucer that crashed into the Fry's Electronics up there in Burbank...
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[User Picture]From: patch_bunny
2004-09-09 02:52 am (UTC)
But think of the leaps and bounds by which our knowledge of satellite impact dynamics has grown!
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[User Picture]From: p0lecat
2004-09-09 03:46 am (UTC)
For the speed it was going, it was remarkable that it did not plow compleatly apart like I would thik. The site is of interest and maybe they too inconcideration that the shoot might fail when they picked the site. Also its interesting that, yes, the military, was also on this mission so it just might been designed for such a failure....as you and I saw it.
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2004-09-09 04:59 am (UTC)
Yes, they absolutely take these sorts of scenarios into consideration when laying out the flight path. (I'm kinda surprised they didn't elect to use a water landing, though.)
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[User Picture]From: p0lecat
2004-09-09 05:10 am (UTC)
Not realy about the water landing. If I recall there was a lot of interest from the Military to add a few things to the craft but most were rejected but the millitary did design the containment shell for the samples.....

So I may be just talking out of my ass but if I wanted something and didnt want anyone elts to know what I found, I would desige a shell to withstand a inpact and when it dose crash, "Oh well, everything was a total loss" would be the end report. But who does the crash site report?

Hehe I think NASA should get away as far as possable fron the pentagon when they can but hard to do that when they pay for a lot of your toys.
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[User Picture]From: toraneko
2004-09-09 04:42 am (UTC)

another reason why

I will never skydive.

All that work and research and the parachute didn't open.
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2004-09-09 05:03 am (UTC)

Re: another reason why

You, too? As the saying goes: I'm not afraid of falling, I'm afraid of landing.
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[User Picture]From: yasha_taur
2004-09-09 05:55 am (UTC)
The real pisser is that the mission had gone VERY well, up to that point. Very few problems. And if you have seen the 'orbit' that it took, and understand that they were able to accomplish this with minimal fuel ( http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/releases/2002/release_2002_147.html and http://www.cds.caltech.edu/~shane/superhighway/description.html ) it becomes even more cool.

On an otherwise smooth mission, the last major thing that could go wrong, did.....
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