Caption: In a new analysis of rare comet dust samples, a team of researchers including Takayuki Ushikubo, Noriko Kita, and John Valley of the University of Wisconsin-Madison has identified unexpected chemical and isotope signatures that challenge existing views about the formation and history of the solar system. Tiny crystals from the Wild 2 comet, captured by NASA’s Stardust mission, resemble fragments of the molten mineral droplets called chondrules, shown here, found in primitive meteorites. That similar flash-heated particles were found in Wild 2, a comet formed in the icy fringes of outer space, suggests that solid materials may have been transported outward in the young solar system.
Photo by: Noriko Kita
Date: September 2008