The Tanpopo mission is an astrobiology space experiment at the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) 'Kibo' on the International Space Station (ISS). One of the sub-divided themes of the Tanpopo mission is for the intact capture of organic bearing micrometeoroids in low Earth orbit using ultralow density silica aerogel (0.01 g/cm 3 ). In order to evaluate damage to organic matter in micrometeoroids during hyper velocity impacts into the aerogel, Murchison meteorite powdered samples, analogs of organic bearing micrometeoroids, were fired into flight-grade silica aerogel (0.01 g/cm 3 ) using a two-stage light-gas gun with velocities of 4.4 and 5.9 km/s. The recovered Murchison grains were analyzed using scanning transmission X-ray microscopy/X-ray absorption near edge structure (STXM/XANES), transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS). TEM observation did not show significant modifications of the recovered Murchison grains. Carbon-XANES spectra, however, showed a large depletion of the organic matter after the 5.9 km/s impact, but no such effects nor any significant hydrogen isotopic fractionation were observed after the 4.4 km/s impact.
- Organic matter
- Tanpopo mission