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Paper: Cometary Dust Collected by Stardust and in the Stratosphere – Differences and Similarities
Volume: 414, Cosmic Dust—Near and Far
Page: 168
Authors: Stephan, T.
Abstract: Dust from comet Wild 2 was collected by the Stardust mission in 2004 and returned to Earth in 2006. To gently decelerate and preserve impacting dust particles even at a sampling velocity of 6.1 km/s, low-density silica aerogel was used as primary capture medium. However, most cometary particles fragmented and were heavily altered upon aerogel capture. These alterations led to a strong bias in the collection of samples extracted from aerogel tracks in favor of more compact mineral grains, grains that have a higher chance to survive the capture intact. They, however, may not be representative for the majority of cometary grains that more likely resemble chondritic porous interplanetary dust particles collected in the stratosphere. Upon aerogel impact, this fragile material fragmented, melted, mixed with aerogel, and was deposited along the track walls. The more compact particles that survived aerogel capture intact and that are retrieved as terminal particles resemble in their properties coarse-grained interplanetary dust particles that presumably at least in part also stem from comets.
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