U research survives satellite crash

The experiment was aboard the Genesis spacecraft that crashed in Utah.

by Lacey Crisp

Research that University professors had on board the crashed satellite Genesis has been recovered.

“It was right on trajectory, and on time,” said Bob Pepin, University astronomy professor and a Genesis research team member. “It landed exactly where it was supposed to, but the parachute didn’t open.”

Genesis crashed in Utah on Wednesday. On Friday, University researchers received word that the particles they needed for research were not harmed.

Pepin estimated the cost of the mission was approximately $265 million.

The capsule was positioned around the sun and was about 1 million miles away from Earth. The Genesis satellite project gathered sun particles for various research projects.

“We can still do most of the science that we were planning on because the tiny particles we need weren’t harmed,” Pepin said.

Genesis got its name because researchers think the sun’s material is a sample of the same material that everything in the solar system started from, Pepin said.

He said the capsule crashed into the Utah desert at approximately 200 mph.

Pepin said he and his colleagues were trying to measure the chemical makeup of how the planets began.

“We are trying to track how the Earth and solar system evolved,” Pepin said.

NASA has funded the project for the past six years and will continue doing so for the next four.

Pepin, one of four Minnesota researchers, was not the only one concerned about the crash. He said approximately 15 laboratories around the world will be using the particles brought back for different projects.

Dennis Schlutter, lead technician for the University’s project, said he is just happy the project will continue.

“You work on something for three or four years, it’s kind of disheartening seeing it go down,” Schlutter said.

He said the crash should not set back the research.