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Open Access Publications from the University of California

STXM-XANES analyses of Murchison meteorite samples captured by aerogel after hypervelocity impacts: A potential implication of organic matter degradation for micrometeoroid collection experiments

  • Author(s): Kebukawa, Y
  • Okudaira, K
  • Yabuta, H
  • Hasegawa, S
  • Tabata, M
  • Furukawa, Y
  • Ito, M
  • Nakato, A
  • David Kilcoyne, AL
  • Kobayashi, K
  • Yokobori, SI
  • Imai, E
  • Kawaguchi, Y
  • Yano, H
  • Yamagishi, A
  • et al.

The Tanpopo mission is an astrobiology space experiment at the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) 'Kibo' on the International Space Station (ISS). One of the sub-divided themes of the Tanpopo mission is for the intact capture of organic bearing micrometeoroids in low Earth orbit using ultralow density silica aerogel (0.01 g/cm 3 ). In order to evaluate damage to organic matter in micrometeoroids during hyper velocity impacts into the aerogel, Murchison meteorite powdered samples, analogs of organic bearing micrometeoroids, were fired into flight-grade silica aerogel (0.01 g/cm 3 ) using a two-stage light-gas gun with velocities of 4.4 and 5.9 km/s. The recovered Murchison grains were analyzed using scanning transmission X-ray microscopy/X-ray absorption near edge structure (STXM/XANES), transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS). TEM observation did not show significant modifications of the recovered Murchison grains. Carbon-XANES spectra, however, showed a large depletion of the organic matter after the 5.9 km/s impact, but no such effects nor any significant hydrogen isotopic fractionation were observed after the 4.4 km/s impact.

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