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Solar wind space capsule crashes

发布时间:2019-03-02 05:19:00来源:未知点击:

By Maggie McKee A space capsule containing solar wind ions, due to be captured in mid-air by helicopter, crashed into the Utah desert without deploying either of its two parachutes at 1158 EDT (1658 BST) on Wednesday. Ground crews are visually inspecting the capsule, which apparently still contains a live explosive device that was supposed to release the first drogue parachute. (Image: NASA) Mission controllers say they will try to salvage any scientific data from the wrecked capsule, which broke open when it smashed sideways into the earth at an estimated 100 miles per hour (160 km per hour). The Genesis spacecraft released the capsule above Earth’s atmosphere on schedule at 0753 EDT (1053 BST). And mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, applauded when long-range cameras in Utah caught sight of the 190-kilogram capsule as it entered the atmosphere at 1152 EDT (1652 BST), travelling at an estimated 11 km per second. But the cameras then showed the capsule tumbling wildly and at 1158 EDT, mission controllers announced, “negative drogue” and “look for impact”. A few seconds later, the capsule hit the ground. The spacecraft delivered the capsule “with pinpoint accuracy to the Earth’s atmosphere”, said Chris Jones, director of Solar System exploration at JPL, on NASA TV. “The delivery to that point was so accurate and things were working so well. But we’ve had some kind of failure.” He said ground crews would work to recover the capsule – taking pains to safely deal with the apparently unexploded mortar – and work over the coming weeks to analyse any flight data for what went wrong. “Whether or not we can recover any of the science from this remains to be seen,” he said. That outlook looks bleak, as on Tuesday mission planners had emphasised the importance of the capsule being caught in mid-air by helicopters and not being allowed to fall to Earth – even if it were slowed by its two parachutes. They feared that a crash landing would break the hexagonal silicon wafer arrays used to collect the precious solar wind ions. These wafers had been rendered “quite a bit more fragile” by micrometeorite impacts over their 27-month exposure in space,