The smallest comet 81P/Wild 2 dust dances around the CI composition.

Rietmeijer, F. J. M.

Meteoritics & Planetary Science. doi: 10.1111/maps.12510


“The bulbous Stardust track #80 (C2092,3,80,0,0) is a huge cavity. Allocations C2092,2,80,46,1 nearest the entry hole and C2092,2,80,47,6 about 0.8 mm beneath the entry hole provide evidence of highly chaotic conditions during capture. They are dominated by nonvesicular low-Mg silica glass instead of highly vesicular glass found deeper into this track which is consistent with the escape of magnesiosilica vapors generated from the smallest comet grains. The survival of delicate (Mg,Al,Ca)-bearing silica glass structures is unique to the entry hole. Both allocations show a dearth of surviving comet dust except for a small enstatite, a low-Ca hypersthene grain, and a Ti-oxide fragment. Finding scattered TiO2 fragments in the silica glass could support, but not prove, TiO2 grain fragmentation during hypervelocity capture. The here reported dearth in mineral species is in marked contrast to the wealth of surviving silicate and oxide minerals deeper into the bulb. Both allocations show Fe-Ni-S nanograins dispersed throughout the low-Mg silica glass matrix. It is noted that neither comet Halley nor Wild 2 had a CI bulk composition for the smallest grains. Using the analogs of interplanetary dust particles (IDPs) and cluster IDPs it is argued that a CI chondritic composition requires the mixing of nonchondritic components in the appropriate proportions. So far, the fine-grained Wild 2 dust is biased toward nonchondritic ferromagnesiosilica materials and lacking contributions of nonchondritic components with Mg-Fe-Ni-S[Si-O] compositions. To be specific, “Where are the GEMS”? The GEMS look-alike found in this study suggests that evidence of GEMS in comet Wild 2 may still be found in the Stardust glass.”