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Macroscopic Subdivision of Silica Aerogel Collectors for Sample Return Missions

Description: Silica aerogel collector tiles have been employed for the collection of particles in low Earth orbit and, more recently, for the capture of cometary particles by NASA's Stardust mission. Reliable, reproducible methods for cutting these and future collector tiles from sample return missions are necessary to maximize the science output from the extremely valuable embedded particles. We present a means of macroscopic subdivision of collector tiles by generating large-scale cuts over several centimeters in silica aerogel with almost no material loss. The cut surfaces are smooth and optically clear allowing visual location of particles for analysis and extraction. This capability is complementary to the smaller-scale cutting capabilities previously described [Westphal (2004), Ishii (2005a, 2005b)] for removing individual impacts and particulate debris in tiny aerogel extractions. Macroscopic cuts enable division and storage or distribution of portions of aerogel tiles for immediate analysis of samples by certain techniques in situ or further extraction of samples suited for other methods of analysis.
Date: September 14, 2005
Creator: Ishii, H A & Bradley, J P
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Analytical Methods for Discriminating Stardust in Aerogel Capture Media

Description: Comet 81P/Wild 2's serendipitous orbit change to the inner solar system in 1974 offered researchers a rare opportunity to sample cometary material from the Kuiper belt, a repository of material left over from solar system formation {approx}4.6 Gyr ago. NASA's Stardust mission intercepted the comet in January 2004 and returned with material collected from its tail in January 2006. The cometary material, consisting of particles ranging from 10 microns down to <2 nm, was collected in aerogel, a very low density ({approx}3 mg/cm cm3) silica foam, to minimize the effects of deceleration from 6.1 km/s. The entire deceleration track is extracted from the aerogel block as a pyramidal shape known as a keystone which can be mapped using x-ray fluorescence prior to extraction of terminal or intermediate particles for other analyses. One goal of the track mapping is to determine the bulk composition of the cometary material returned. Unfortunately, although the aerogel is predominantly SiO{sub 2}, there are sufficient quantities of trace elements similar to those expected in the cometary material to require sophisticated discrimination techniques in order to decide whether a fluorescence map pixel contains only aerogel or both aerogel and cometary material. We have developed a dual threshold analysis approach for better distinguishing cometary material from aerogel contaminants and have applied it to five Stardust impact tracks and terminal particles. Here, we present aspects of the dual threshold approach and demonstrate its impact on track composition for one track.
Date: September 4, 2007
Creator: Brennan, S; Ishii, H A; Bradley, J P; Luening, K; Ignatyev, K & Pianetta, P
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Recovering the Elemental Composition of Comet Wild 2 Dust in Five Stardust Impact Tracks and Terminal Particles in Aerogel

Description: The elemental (non-volatile) composition of five Stardust impact tracks and terminal particles left from capture of Comet 81P/Wild 2 dust were mapped in a synchrotron x-ray scanning microprobe with full fluorescence spectra at each pixel. Because aerogel includes background levels of several elements of interest, we employ a novel 'dual threshold' approach to discriminate against background contaminants: an upper threshold, above which a spectrum contains cometary material plus aerogel and a lower threshold below which it contains only aerogel. The difference between normalized cometary-plus-background and background-only spectra is attributable to cometary material. The few spectra in between are discarded since misallocation is detrimental: cometary material incorrectly placed in the background spectrum is later subtracted from the cometary spectrum, doubling the loss of reportable cometary material. This approach improves precision of composition quantification. We present the refined whole impact track and terminal particle elemental abundances for the five impact tracks. One track shows mass increases in Cr and Mn (1.4x), Cu, As and K (2x), Zn (4x) and total mass (13%) by dual thresholds compared to a single threshold. Major elements Fe and Ni are not significantly affected. The additional Cr arises from cometary material containing little Fe. We exclude Au intermixed with cometary material because it is found to be a localized surface contaminant carried by comet dust into an impact track. The dual threshold technique can be used in other situations where elements of interest in a small sample embedded in a matrix are also present in the matrix itself.
Date: January 4, 2007
Creator: Ishii, H A; Brennan, S; Bradley, J P; Luening, K; Ignatyev, K & Pianetta, P
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Discovery, Mineral Paragenesis and Origin of Wadalite in Meteorites

Description: The mineral wadalite (ideal and simplified formula: Ca{sub 6}Al{sub 5}Si{sub 2}O{sub 16}Cl{sub 3}) has been discovered for the first time in a meteorite, specifically in the coarse-grained, igneous Type B calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs) from the CV carbonaceous chondrite Allende. We report the results of electron microprobe, scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy analyses of wadalite-bearing assemblages in the Allende CAIs and propose that wadalite formed by metamorphic reaction between akermanitic melilite and anorthite, likely mediated by chlorine-bearing fluids. Petrographic relationships support the likelihood of multistage alterations by fluids of different chemistries interspersed or coinciding with thermal metamorphic episodes on the Allende parent asteroid. Fluid involvement in metamorphism of Allende CAIs implies that these objects experienced open-system alteration after accretion into the CV chondrite parent asteroid which may have resulted in disturbances of their oxygen- and magnesium-isotope systematics.
Date: July 9, 2009
Creator: Ishii, H A; Krot, A N; Bradley, J P; Keil, K; Nagashima, K; Teslich, N et al.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Highly 15N-Enriched Chondritic Clasts in the Isheyevo Meteorite

Description: The metal-rich carbonaceous chondrites (CB and CH) have the highest whole-rock {sup 15}N enrichment ({delta}{sup 15}N up to +1500{per_thousand}), similar to {delta}{sup 15}N values reported in micron-sized regions (hotspots) of Interplanetary Dust Particles (IDPs) of possibly cometary origin and fine-grained matrices of unmetamorphosed chondrites. These {sup 15}N-rich hotspots are commonly attributed to low-temperature ion-molecule reactions in the protosolar molecular cloud or in the outer part of the protoplanetary disk. The nature of the whole-rock {sup 15}N enrichment of the metal-rich chondrites is not understood. We report a discovery of a unique type of primitive chondritic clasts in the CH/CB-like meteorite Isheyevo, which provides important constraints on the origin of {sup 15}N anomaly in metal-rich chondrites and nitrogen-isotope fractionation in the Solar System. These clasts contain tiny chondrules and refractory inclusions (5-15 {micro}m in size), and abundant ferromagnesian chondrule fragments (1-50 {micro}m in size) embedded in the partly hydrated, fine-grained matrix material composed of olivines, pyroxenes, poorly-organized aromatic organics, phyllosilicates and other hydrous phases. The mineralogy and oxygen isotope compositions of chondrules and refractory inclusions in the clasts are similar to those in the Isheyevo host, suggesting formation at similar heliocentric distances. In contrast to the previously known extraterrestrial samples, the fine-grained material in the clasts is highly and rather uniformly enriched in {sup 15}N, with bulk {delta}{sup 15}N values ranging between +1000 and +1300{per_thousand}; the {delta}{sup 15}N values in rare hotspots range from +1400 to +4000{per_thousand}. Since fine-grained matrices in the lithic clasts are the only component containing thermally unprocessed (during CAI and chondrule formation or during impact melting) materials that accreted into the metal rich chondrite parent body(ies), the {sup 15}N-enriched clasts as present in Isheyevo probably represent the major primordial carrier of {sup 15}N anomaly in these meteorites. The rather uniform and very high bulk {sup 15}N enrichment ...
Date: January 14, 2009
Creator: Bonal, L; Huss, G R; Krot, A N; Nagashima, K; Ishii, H A; Bradley, J P et al.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Applied Focused Ion Beam Techniques for Sample Preparation of Astromaterials for Integrated Nano-Analysis

Description: Sample preparation is always a critical step in study of micrometer sized astromaterials available for study in the laboratory, whether their subsequent analysis is by electron microscopy or secondary ion mass spectrometry. A focused beam of gallium ions has been used to prepare electron transparent sections from an interplanetary dust particle, as part of an integrated analysis protocol to maximize the mineralogical, elemental, isotopic and spectroscopic information extracted from one individual particle. In addition, focused ion beam techniques have been employed to extract cometary residue preserved on the rims and walls of micro-craters in 1100 series aluminum foils that were wrapped around the sample tray assembly on the Stardust cometary sample collector. Non-ideal surface geometries and inconveniently located regions of interest required creative solutions. These include support pillar construction and relocation of a significant portion of sample to access a region of interest. Serial sectioning, in a manner similar to ultramicrotomy, is a significant development and further demonstrates the unique capabilities of focused ion beam microscopy for sample preparation of astromaterials.
Date: February 20, 2007
Creator: Graham, G A; Teslich, N E; Kearsley, A T; Stadermann, F J; Stroud, R M; Dai, Z R et al.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department