While NASA’s photo of the day sheds light on a “flying saucer’s” crash-landing in a Utah desert from back in 2004, it’s important to note that “no space aliens were involved” in this close encounter.
The U.S. space agency says the photo below shows wreckage from the return of the NASA-launched Genesis spaceship it originally launched back in 2001 to study the sun. NASA says the photo below shows the sample return capsule, which was part of the “human-made robot Genesis spaceship.”
USAF 388th Range Sqd., Genesis Mission, NASA
“The unexpectedly hard landing at over 300 kilometers per hour occurred because the parachutes did not open as planned,” NASA reports on its website. “The Genesis mission had been orbiting the Sun collecting solar wind particles that are usually deflected away by Earth’s magnetic field.
“Despite the crash landing, many return samples remained in good enough condition to analyze. So far, Genesis-related discoveries include new details about the composition of the Sun and how the abundance of some types of elements differ across the Solar System.”
The space agency says these results preserved from the Genesis have helped provide new details behind how the sun and the planets of our solar system originally formed.
Science Alert reports that the Genesis return capsule was supposed to re-enter the atmosphere when a mortar aboard the spacecraft was supposed to blow and release a parachute to slow and stabilize its descent. NASA reports in a lengthy investigation report published to its website that a set of small sensors were installed backward.
“When it entered the atmosphere, the Genesis capsule was over northern Oregon. The capsule stabilized with its nose down because of the location of its center of gravity, its spin rate and its aerodynamic shape,” the space agency.