Feeds

Stunt choppers to retrieve Genesis probe

Catch!

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

Hollywood stunt pilots have been drafted in to help scientists catch the Genesis probe, when it returns from its mission to collect a sample of the Sun.

Astronomers have been tracking the probe closely, calculating its trajectory and working out tiny course corrections. The craft is scheduled to arrive over the US Air Force's test and training range in Utah on 8 September.

The mid-air catch manoeuvre has been resurrected from the days of the Cold War. US airforce pilots routinely snagged film canisters from spy satellites using this method, and estimate that more than 300 catches have been made. Even so, this is the first time the technique has been suggested for retrieving a capsule from a space mission, so the stunt pilots have been putting in plenty of practice.

Genesis launched in August 2001 and began collecting star dust four months later. The craft sported collection panels which were stored furled up until early December when the craft reached LaGrange 1 - a point of gravitational balance, and stability, between Earth and the Moon. The panels were open for 884 days, collecting solar particles all the while.

"What a prize Genesis will be," principal investigator Don Burnett of the California Institute of Technology told the BBC. "Our spacecraft has logged almost 27 months far beyond the Moon's orbit, collecting atoms from the Sun. With it we should be able to say what the Sun is composed of at a level of precision that has never been seen before." ®

Related stories

Brits bet on gravity wave discovery
Astronomers probe Cassiopeia's secrets
Beagle 2 team none the wiser on failure

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
IBM Hursley Park: Where Big Blue buries the past, polishes family jewels
How the internet of things has deep roots in the English countryside
Video games make you NASTY AND VIOLENT
Especially if you are bad at them and keep losing
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Honeybee boffin STINGS OWN WEDDING TACKLE... for SCIENCE
Not the worst place to be stung, says one man
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.