Ed Yeates ReportingAmazement! That's how scientists describe the survival of all the bits and pieces of science now retrieved from the ill-fated Genesis capsule. Things are winding down at Dugway this week as precious packages are getting ready to be shipped out.
Things look different inside this clean room at Dugway Proving Ground. Surgery to remove the innards of the spacecraft is over. Now in these final post-op days, delicate parts of the solar wind experiment are all laid out on tables or in special cases.
What you see now is the genesis clean room is the team in the final stages of salvaging these very critical samples from the project. Each tiny piece is being inventoried and packaged for its trip away from Utah.
Dr. Eileen Stansbery, Johnson Space Center: "We're mostly making sure that what we have here is not further damaged by moving it to Houston."
Dr. Eileen Stansbery who’s been there from the beginning, heading up the Genesis Clean Room Team, says the final inventory of the samples they've been able to save is nothing short of miraculous.
For example, a gold collector that snatched samples from the solar wind.
Dr. Eileen Stansberry: "It's in excellent shape, as you can see."
A polished aluminum collector sampling another part of the solar wind is a little crumbled but in tact. And the little delicate wafers where solar wind atoms were embedded -- silicone on sapphire wafers -- damaged but okay.
The list goes on, but the most important part of the mission, another container that was inside this tumbling space capsule, an experiment that tasted some of the gasses of the solar wind...
Dr. Eileen Stansberry: "When the team first saw those concentrator targets were in tact, it was a special moment, that's all I can say. It was awesome."
So now it's off to the Johnson Space Center for the most difficult job -- to see how much contamination, how many abrasions can be cleaned off these delicate surfaces without damaging the pristine visitors that came aboard from outer space.
It's expected what's left of the Genesis experiment will be shipped from Utah to Houston by the end of next week.