NASA posts image of crashed ‘flying saucer from outer space’

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But the "flying saucer" is not an alien spaceship and is infact the remnants of the robot spaceship Genesis.

Genesis was launched in 2001 to study the sun and collect samples of solar wind particles.

Numerous samples the return capsule carried were able to be analyzed despite the crash.

As part of its "Astronomy picture of the day" series, the space agency, with tongue firmly in cheek, shared the suggestively-titled image, "Flying Saucer Crash Lands in Utah Desert".

The "flying saucer" isn't an alien spaceship though - it is the remnants of the robot spaceship Genesis that was created to study the Sun and launched in 2001.

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The first instalment of the mission was a success with Genesis collecting valuable data on the sun, solar particles and Earth's magnetic field. What came crashing down to Earth was Genesis's sample return capsule.

In fact, the "flying saucer" is the Genesis sample return spacecraft - which landed with a bang when its parachutes failed to open in 2004. The capsule smashed to Earth at about 185 miles per hour.

Thanks to engineering (and some luck) numerous return samples remained in good enough condition to analyze. This included unprecedented details about the composition of the Sun and the elemental differences between the star and the inner planets, as well as providing insights into the abundance of certain elements throughout our solar system.

"These results have provided intriguing clues into details of how the Sun and planets formed billions of years ago", NASA added.

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