• Bulk mineralogy and three-dimensional structures of individual Stardust particles deduced from synchrotron X-ray diffraction and microtomography analysis

      Nakamura, T.; Tsuchiyama, A.; Akaki, T.; Uesugi, K.; Nakano, T.; Takeuchi, A.; Suzuki, Y.; Noguchi, T. (The Meteoritical Society, 2008-01-01)
      During preliminary examination of particles released from 81P/Wild 2 short-period comet, we analyzed 28 particles by nondestructive means, high-sensitive X-ray diffraction and high-resolution X-ray tomography, in order to characterize bulk mineralogy and three-dimensional structures of individual particles. The analyses were performed at synchrotron facilities, KEK and SPring-8 in Japan. Twenty-eight particles from 5 to 25 micrometers in size, including 25 particles from Track 35 and 3 particles from Track 44, were first analyzed by X-ray diffraction and then 4 out of 28 particles were analyzed by X-ray tomography. All particles are classified into two groups based on silicate crystallinity: crystalline type and amorphous-rich type. The abundance of the former is approximately 10% of the particles investigated. Crystalline type shows very sharp reflections of olivine and low-Ca pyroxene, while amorphous-rich type shows no or very weak silicate reflections, suggesting that silicates are mostly amorphous. Broad reflections of Fe sulfides and Fe silicides are detected from most of amorphous-rich type particles. Subsequent tomography analysis revealed that the crystalline type is non-porous material consisting of coarse silicate crystals larger than 1 micrometer in size, while the amorphous-rich type is very porous aggregates with amorphous silicates and small Fe sulfide and Fe metallic grains. All characteristics of amorphousrich type particles indicate that most of them are melted and rapidly solidified during capture in the silica aerogel. On the other hand, the crystalline type is indigenous cometary particle formed through high-temperature heating episodes that have taken place prior to formation of comet Wild 2. One of the crystalline-type particles (C2054,0,35,6,0) consists of Mg-rich olivine, pyroxene, and kamacite and exhibits porphyritic or poikilitic texture very similar to chondrules.
    • Comparing Wild 2 particles to chondrites and IDPs

      Zolensky, M.; Nakamura-Messenger, K.; Rietmeijer, F.; Leroux, H.; Mikouchi, T.; Ohsumi, K.; Simon, S.; Grossman, L.; Stephan, T.; Weisberg, M.; et al. (The Meteoritical Society, 2008-01-01)
      We compare the observed composition ranges of olivine, pyroxene, and Fe-Ni sulfides in Wild 2 grains with those from chondritic interplanetary dust particles (IDPs) and chondrite classes to explore whether these data suggest affinities to known hydrous materials in particular. Wild 2 olivine has an extremely wide composition range, from Fa096, with a pronounced frequency peak at Fa1. The composition range displayed by the low-calcium pyroxene is also very extensive, from Fs48 to Fs0, with a significant frequency peak centered at Fs5. These ranges are as broad or broader than those reported for any other extraterrestrial material. Wild 2 Fe-Ni sulfides mainly have compositions close to that of FeS, with less than 2 atom% Ni; to date, only two pentlandite grains have been found among the Wild grains, suggesting that this mineral is not abundant. The complete lack of compositions between FeS and pentlandite (with intermediate solid solution compositions) suggests (but does not require) that FeS and pentlandite condensed as crystalline species, i.e., did not form as amorphous phases, which later became annealed. While we have not yet observed any direct evidence of water-bearing minerals, the presence of Ni-bearing sulfides, and magnesium-dominated olivine and low-Ca pyroxene does not rule out their presence at low abundance. We do conclude that new investigations of major- and minorelement compositions of chondrite matrix and IDPs are required.