[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Stardust spacecraft collected thousands of particles from comet 81P/Wild 2 and returned them to Earth for laboratory study. The preliminary examination of these samples shows that the nonvolatile portion of the comet is an unequilibrated assortment of materials that have both presolar and solar system origin. The comet contains an abundance of silicate grains that are much larger than predictions of interstellar grain models, and many of these are high-temperature minerals that appear to have formed in the inner regions of the solar nebula. Their presence in a comet proves that the formation of the solar system included mixing on the grandest scales.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Infrared spectra of material captured from comet 81P/Wild 2 by the Stardust spacecraft reveal indigenous aliphatic hydrocarbons similar to those in interplanetary dust particles thought to be derived from comets, but with longer chain lengths than those observed in the diffuse interstellar medium. Similarly, the Stardust samples contain abundant amorphous silicates in addition to crystalline silicates such as olivine and pyroxene. The presence of crystalline silicates in Wild 2 is consistent with mixing of solar system and interstellar matter. No hydrous silicates or carbonate minerals were detected, which suggests a lack of aqueous processing of Wild 2 dust.