Experiments dedicated to the detection of interplanetary dust particles (IDPs) have been exposed on various collectors, since our first experiment COMET-1, exposed in October 1986 to the Giacobini-Zinner meteor stream, on the Saliout 7 spacecraft (Bibring et al. 1988). These collectors are pure metallic targets, in which the impacting particles leave a typical crater, where particle remnants, possibly mixed with the melted target, may be found. We are mainly interested in the analysis of hypervelocity impact features of sizes <=10 micrometers. Up to now, these features have been looked for either in the gold collectors of the COMET-1 experiment or in Al targets of the FRECOPA experiment, loaned to us by J.C. Mandeville, P.I. of the FRECOPA experiment (LDEF west trailing direction). We have recently started the examination or Al samples exposed on the leading face of LDEF, loaned to us by J.A.M. McDonnell, P.I. of the "MAP" experiment, and F. Horz, P.I. of the A0187-1 experiment. The distribution of the impact features leads to the evaluation of the microparticle flux in the near Earth environment. We found for the number of impact features <=10 micrometer in diameter a cumulative flux ~8x10^-2 m^-2 s^-1 for COMET-1 and 2x10^-4 m^-2 s^-1 for FRECOPA. A first estimation for the flux on LDEF leading face would be a factor of 10 higher than on the trailing face, mainly due to orbital debris events. The flux measured for COMET- 1 consists of ~90% orbital debris, while for FRECOPA, the flux value is attributed to extraterrestrial particles, as confirmed by chemical analysis. This value fits with the previous estimations of the micrometeroid particle mass distribution, while for COMET-1, we find a large enhancement. We attribute this enhancement to the fact that the collection occurred during the encounter of the Giacobini-Zinner meteor stream (Borg et al. 1991). In addition, we have obtained composition of impact residues for nontypical orbital debris. These compositions suggest an extraterrestrial origin for the impacting particles. The main elements we identified are usually referred to as "chondritic" elements (Na, Mg, Si, S, Ca, and Fe); intrinsic Al is masked by the Al target and Ni is not observed. Furthermore, C and O are present in 90% of the cases, the C/O peak height ratio varying from 0.1 to 3. These extraterrestrial events are now being subjected to an imagery and analytical protocol that includes FESEM (field emission scanning electron microscopy) for high resolution imagery and LIMS (laser ionization mass spectrometry) for molecular identification. Our first results clearly indicate that such small events show crater features analogous to what is observed at larger sizes; they suggest that N can be present in the IDP remnants in which C and O have been identified by EDS analysis (Borg et al. 1992). More results concerning FRECOPA and COMET-1 analysis will be presented, that could imply that the existence of CHON particles could be a general characteristic of cometary material present in the solar cavity, as this signature is found in the environment of P/Halley (PUMA and PIA experiments), in remnants identified on LDEF collectors and in grains from the Giacobinni-Zinner meteor stream. References Bibring J.-P., Borg J., Katchanov A., Langevin Y., Salvetat P., Surkhov Y.A., and Vassent B. (1988) Lunar Planet. Sci. 19, 73-74. Borg J., Bibring J.-P., and Vassent B. (1991) Meteoritics, 26, 4,321. Borg J., Bunch T. and Radicati di Brozolo F. (1992) To be presented at the LDEF 2 meeting.
- Pub Date:
- July 1992