Genesis

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• Launch date:  8 August 2001

• Orbital insertion:  8 September 20014

• End of mission: 8 September 2004

• Agency: NASA

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Designed to gain a better understanding of our cosmic origins, the Genisis spacecraft was launched in August 2001 to collect solar wind samples and return them to Earth for study.

In 2004, after completing its sampling phase at the Legrange point 1, or L1, the spacecraft released its sample return capsule, which made an unplanned hard landing when its parachute failed to deploy. Still, it marked NASA’s first sample return since the final Apollo lunar mission in 1972, and the first material collected beyond the moon. Using the sample, researchers have already found evidence that the Earth possibly formed from different solar nebula materials than those that created the sun.