Organic matter from comet 81P/Wild 2, IDPs, and carbonaceous meteorites; similarities and differences



Abstract— During preliminary examination of 81P/Wild 2 particles collected by the NASA Stardust spacecraft, we analyzed seven, sulfur embedded and ultramicrotomed particles extracted from five different tracks. Sections were analyzed using a scanning transmission X-ray microscope (SXTM) and carbon X-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES) spectra were collected. We compared the carbon XANES spectra of these Wild 2 samples with a database of spectra on thirty-four interplanetary dust particles (IDPs) and with several meteorites. Two of the particles analyzed are iron sulfides and there is evidence that an aliphatic compound associated with these particles can survive high temperatures. An iron sulfide from an IDP demonstrates the same phenomenon. Another, mostly carbon free containing particle radiation damaged, something we have not observed in any IDPs we have analyzed or any indigenous organic matter from the carbonaceous meteorites, Tagish Lake, Orgueil, Bells and Murchison. The carbonaceous material associated with this particle showed no mass loss during the initial analysis but chemically changed over a period of two months. The carbon XANES spectra of the other four particles varied more than spectra from IDPs and indigenous organic matter from meteorites. Comparison of the carbon XANES spectra from these particles with 1. the carbon XANES spectra from thirty-four IDPs (<15 micron in size) and 2. the carbon XANES spectra from carbonaceous material from the Tagish Lake, Orgueil, Bells, and Murchison meteorites show that 81P/Wild 2 carbon XANES spectra are more similar to IDP carbon XANES spectra then to the carbon XANES spectra of meteorites.