Space Weathering of Genesis Mission Solar-wind Collectors with Inferences for Weathering on Airless BodiesOPEN ACCESS 

Amy J. G. Jurewicz, Karen D. Rieck, Chad Olinger, Judy Allton, Mukul Sharma, Lindsay P. Keller and Roy Christoffersen

The Planetary Science Journal, Volume 4, Number 5


“Samples from the Genesis Solar Wind Sample Return (NASA Discovery 5) are a unique opportunity to study the initial stages of space weathering, i.e., the physical and chemical effects of solar-wind irradiation. Arrays of collectors containing multiple materials were each exposed to a different solar-wind regime (fast, slow, bulk, or coronal mass ejection) at the L1 point for long durations (years). Materials exposed to the solar wind included metals, semiconductors, and insulators. Although the time of exposure was obviously short relative to samples having extraterrestrial origins, optical properties, surface chemical properties, and matrix structure have changed in many collectors due to exposure to solar wind. The thickness of amorphous zones, where present, appears to correspond with the depth of the peak of the solar-wind H distribution in each regime. Damage from high-energy particles was negligible because the collectors were 700μm or less in thickness and shielded from the back by the spacecraft. Micrometeorite impacts and sputtering were also negligible because of the short exposure times. Our current results are preliminary: We hope future workers will extend this study both to support Genesis characterization efforts and to further understand space-weathering processes on a geologic timescale.”