Spacecraft goes from crash landing to mission accomplished

Probe’s wreckage yields bonanza of discoveries about the early solar system

By Alexandra Witze, 14:53 PM June 23, 2011

It took seven years and a lot of picking through the Utah sand with tweezers. But scientists have finally accomplished the top goal of NASA’s Genesis mission, which flew into space in 2001 to gather particles streaming from the sun but crashed while returning them to Earth in 2004.

After painstakingly gathering and analyzing the shards, researchers report that Earth’s chemistry is not like the sun’s. Compared with the sun, the planet is enriched in two types of oxygen and one type of nitrog...

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