Conclusions

Figure 4. The energy-dispersive spectrum obtained for the olivine grain.

The study of olivine grains impacted into aerogel has offered the opportunity to assess the suitability of raman spectroscopy as a basic non-destructive technique that allows the identification of mineral composition. The raman spectra obtained for an impacted olivine show a wider peak width than that obtained from the analysis of a pristine grain. This may indicate that the particles do undergo a degree of alteration at the crystallographic scale. The study has also demonstrated that detailed X-ray microanalysis of the trapped grains is feasible using an analytical SEM. X-ray elemental mapping has been particularly useful in locating grains within the tracks of the impacted aerogel block. The study will now be extended to include more minerals and complex meteorite powders. STARDUST will make available some of the most scientifically significant material to be investigated in the laboratory since the return of lunar samples from the Apollo missions. It is therefore clearly important for the cosmic dust community to prepare for the prospects and challenges that await.

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