Iron oxides in comet 81P/Wild 2

Bridges, John C.; Burchell, Mark J.; Changela, Hitesh C.; Foster, Nick J,; Creighton, J. Alan; Carpenter, James D.; Gurman, Steve J.; Franchi, Ian A. and Busemann, Henner (2010). Iron oxides in comet 81P/Wild 2. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 45(1) pp. 55–72.



We have used synchrotron Fe-XANES, XRS, micro Raman, and SEM-TEM analyses of Stardust track 41 slice and track 121 terminal area slices to identify Fe oxide (magnetite-hematite and amorphous oxide). Fe-Ti oxide, and V-rich chromite (Fe-Cr-V-Ti-Mn oxide) grains ranging in size from 200 nm to similar to ~10 μm. They co-exist with relict FeNi metal. Both Fe-XANES and microRaman analyses suggest that the FeNi metal and magnetite(Fe2O3FeO) also contain some hematite (Fe2O3). The FeNi has been partially oxidized (probably during capture), but on the basis of our experimental work with a light-gas gun and microRaman analyses, we believe that some of the magnetite-hematite mixtures may have originated on Wild 2. The terminal samples from track 121 also contain traces of sulfide and Mg-rich silicate minerals. Our results show an unequilibrated mixture of reduced and oxidized Fe-bearing minerals in the Wild 2 samples in an analogous way to mineral assemblages seen in carbonaceous chondrites and interplanetary dust particles. The samples contain some evidence for terrestrial contamination, for example, occasional Zn-bearing grains and amorphous Fe oxide in track 121 for which evidence of a cometary origin is lacking.

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