Utah Test and Training Range
The Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR) is a military testing and training area located in Utah's West Desert, approximately 80 miles (130 km) west of Salt Lake City, Utah. UTTR is currently the largest overland contiguous block of supersonic authorized restricted airspace in the contiguous United States. The range, which has a footprint of 2,675 square miles (6,930 km2) of ground space and over 19,000 square miles (49,000 km2) of air space, is divided into North and South ranges. Interstate 80 divides the two sections of the range. The site is administered and maintained by the US Air Force's HQ UTTR, formerly known as the 388th Range Squadron (388RANS) stationed at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.
The Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR) is host to a variety of training and testing missions for the United States Air Force, United States Army, and United States Marine Corps. The site is frequently used for the disposal of explosive ordnance, testing of experimental military equipment, as well as ground and air military training exercises. The Utah Test and Training Range works in close conjunction with Dugway Proving Ground (DPG) for military training exercises.
The site has also been used as a landing site for sample return in NASA's planetary science missions, including comet material in the Stardust mission and the upcoming OSIRIS-REx mission to return material from an asteroid.
UTTR was also used as the landing site for the Genesis sample return. Although the sample return capsule's parachute failed to open and the capsule made a hard landing in the soft sandy soil, most of the science was salvaged. The solar wind particles were made up of highly pure wafers of aluminum, sapphire, silicon, germanium, gold and diamond-like amorphous carbon. When the capsule hit the desert floor these wafer shattered into over 10,000 pieces of material. The Genesis team, along with the efforts of the Air Force's Photographic and Engineering Technician team, set up a large enclosure in the high bay of the facility. Months were spent as NASA scientists went through the pieces and bent metal and shards of razor sharp material, each of the salvageable pieces of material going into its own small container where they were stored for a short time. It wasn't until a couple of weeks had gone by when one of the Lead Scientists and the Supervisor of the Engineering Technicians came upon what turned out to be the Solar Wind Concentrator. Protected by a couple of aluminum braces and brackets the Concentrator had survived almost completely intact with only one small crack in one of the quadrants. This turned out to be the prize every scientist looks for, the diamond of knowledge that lies hidden, the answer to how our solar system might have come into existence. Even though the capsule had slammed into the desert at 300 miles per hour, this jewel had survived. Genesis was and has been a treasure trove of scientific knowledge with pieces sent to universities and schools all over the world. It unfolded secrets of our solar system that we still do not understand and are still looking for.