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Title: The survivability of phyllosilicates and carbonates impacting Stardust Al foils: Facilitating the search for cometary water

Comet 81P/Wild 2 samples returned by NASA's Stardust mission provide an unequalled opportunity to study the contents of, and hence conditions and processes operating on, comets. They can potentially validate contentious interpretations of cometary infrared spectra and in situ mass spectrometry data: specifically the identification of phyllosilicates and carbonates. However, Wild 2 dust was collected via impact into capture media at ~6 km s -1, leading to uncertainty as to whether these minerals were captured intact, and, if subjected to alteration, whether they remain recognizable. Here, we simulated Stardust Al foil capture conditions using a two-stage light-gas gun, and directly compared transmission electron microscope analyses of pre- and postimpact samples to investigate survivability of lizardite and cronstedtite (phyllosilicates) and calcite (carbonate). We find the phyllosilicates do not survive impact as intact crystalline materials but as moderately to highly vesiculated amorphous residues lining resultant impact craters, whose bulk cation to Si ratios remain close to that of the impacting grain. Closer inspection reveals variation in these elements on a submicron scale, where impact-induced melting accompanied by reducing conditions (due to the production of oxygen scavenging molten Al from the target foils) has resulted in the production of native silicon and Fe-more » and Fe-Si-rich phases. In contrast, large areas of crystalline calcite are preserved within the calcite residue, with smaller regions of vesiculated, Al-bearing calcic glass. Unambiguous identification of calcite impactors on Stardust Al foil is therefore possible, while phyllosilicate impactors may be inferred from vesiculated residues with appropriate bulk cation to Si ratios. Finally, we demonstrate that the characteristic textures and elemental distributions identifying phyllosilicates and carbonates by transmission electron microscopy can also be observed by state-of-the-art scanning electron microscopy providing rapid, nondestructive initial mineral identifications in Stardust residues.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [3]
  1. Univ. of Kent, Canterbury (United Kingdom). School of Physical Science, Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Sciences; Natural History Museum, London (United Kingdom). Dept. of Earth Sciences, Impacts & Astromaterials Research Centre (IARC)
  2. Univ. of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI (United States). Hawaii Inst. of Geophysics and Planetology
  3. Univ. of Kent, Canterbury (United Kingdom). School of Physical Science, Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Sciences
  4. Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1086-9379
Grant/Contract Number:
AC52-07NA27344; NNH07AG46I; NNX14AH86G; 09-ERI-004
Published Article
Journal Name:
Meteoritics and Planetary Science
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 50; Journal Issue: 12; Journal ID: ISSN 1086-9379
Research Org:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA); USDOE Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Program
Country of Publication:
United States
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1401407; OSTI ID: 1430979