Solar-Wind Gems Take the Plunge

The return mission of the Genesis solar wind project ended up in a heaping pile in the Utah desert on Sept. 8. The Genesis capsule was launched three years and one month earlier on Aug. 8, 2001. Its mission: to capture samples of solar wind particles on passive collectors made from ultra-pure wafers of float-zone silicon, Czochralski-grown silicon, single-crystal synthetic sapphire, epitaxial-silicon on sapphire, gold on sapphire, diamond-like carbon on silicon, a carbon-cobalt-gold on sapphire, and something called Vitraloy (a true metal glass). NASA notes that the return capsule "entered Earth's atmosphere at 9:52 a.m. and entered the preplanned entry ellipse in the Utah Test and Training Range as predicted." But the parachute did not deploy, and the capsule hit the ground at 193 miles per hour. Itisrocket science! The solar wind is a flow of various types of ions that stream outwa

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