In too deep: Genesis’ disastrous landing

GenesisThe NASA/JPL Genesis mission, a 29-month trek through the solar system to gather solar particles and return them to Earth, ends in disaster when both of the parachutes – meant to slow the returning Genesis capsule down and give retrieval helicopters something to hook onto to bring the capsule to the ground safely – fail to open. As a result, the 420+ pound Genesis capsule slams into the Utah desert floor at nearly 200 miles per hour. The impact breaches not only the outer re-entry shell of the capsule, but the experiment canister within containing the fragile plates of gold, sapphire, diamond and other pure substances, all of which had been exposed to the solar wind to collect particles from the sun. Scientists begin picking through the debris to see what portions of those collection devices can be salvaged. Several pieces of the collection devices are salvageable, with at least two complete plates and fragments of several others, but many other plates are reduced to dust by the impact of landing.