Wednesday, 08 September 2004

UPDATE: The Genesis space capsule crashed in the desert after a parachute system intended to slow it's descent failed to deploy. The plan was for a helicopter crew to hook the parachute in mid-air in order to prevent the capsule from impacting the ground even under parachute speeds, but without the chute the capsule impacted at nearly 200 miles per hour.

I grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico, which is home to Los Alamos National Laboratory. Scientists there do incredible research about many, many things - including our sun and such important and fascinating things as the solar winds, Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) and solar flares. My stepfather pioneered the term CME and has dedicated years of work in the field. I have not had a chance to talk to him yet about what the loss of this experiment means to his colleagues, but I imagine it's a real heart-breaker. There is still some optimism that there will be usable solar matter collected from the mission, and my fingers are crossed.

At precisely 8:52:46 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time (PDT), northwest of Bend, Oregon, a fireball will appear in the sky: a white-hot dot of light, brighter than the planet Venus, gliding across the blue morning sky.

No, it's not a scary movie, it's a space capsule returning to earth after being jettisoned by the Genesis spacecraft. Inside are samples of our sun's solar wind particles, which are being returned to earth for research.

If you live in Southern Oregon (from Bend to the southeast), Southern Idaho or Northern Nevada, look up in the sky at about 8:52 a.m. today - and take a video - I am curious what this will look like!

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Wednesday, 08 September 2004 21:10:08 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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