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Navigating Celestial Currents

Math leads spacecraft on joy rides through the solar system

Last April, the Genesis spacecraft began its journey home. It had been parked out in space collecting solar particles for 2 years. Yet even though its job was done, Genesis didn't head straight home. Instead, it took a 3-million-mile detour, swinging past Earth to do a loop de loop around a distant point before flying back to Earth.

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