Infrared spectroscopy of comet 81P/Wild 2 samples returned by Stardust

Keller, Lindsay P.; Bajt, Sasa; Baratta, Giuseppe A.; Borg, Janet; Bradley, John P.; Brownlee, Don E.; Busemann, Henner; Brucato, John R.; Burchell, Mark; Colangeli, Luigi; d'Hendecourt, Louis; Djouadi, Zahia; Ferrini, Gianluca; Flynn, George; Franchi, Ian A.; Fries, Marc; Grady, Monica M.; Graham, Giles A.; Grossemy, Faustine; Kearsley, Anton; Matrajt, Graciela; Nakamura-Messenger, Keiko; Mennella, Vito; Nittler, Larry; Palumbo, Maria E.; Stadermann, Frank J.; Tsou, Peter; Rotundi, Alessandra; Sandford, Scott A.; Snead, Christopher; Steele, Andrew; Wooden, Diane and Zolensky, Mike (2006). Infrared spectroscopy of comet 81P/Wild 2 samples returned by Stardust. Science, 314(5806) pp. 1728–1731.



Infrared spectra of material captured from comet 81P/Wild 2 by the Stardust spacecraft reveal indigenous aliphatic hydrocarbons similar to those in interplanetary dust particles thought to be derived from comets, but with longer chain lengths than those observed in the diffuse interstellar medium. Similarly, the Stardust samples contain abundant amorphous silicates in addition to crystalline silicates such as olivine and pyroxene. The presence of crystalline silicates in Wild 2 is consistent with mixing of solar system and interstellar matter. No hydrous silicates or carbonate minerals were detected, which suggests a lack of aqueous processing of Wild 2 dust.

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