[BAO01-P07] Discovery of Micrometeoroid Impact Signatures on the Tanpopo Aerogel Panels: Early Report of the Initial Sample Analysis of Its First Year Samples Retrieved back to the Earth
Keywords:Microbes, Panspermia, Sample Analysis and Curation
By analyzing captured micrometeoroids in the aerogels, one can learn what kinds of extra-terrestrial organic compounds inside micrometeoroids can be transported from parent bodies and how they may be altered in outer space. Also by evaluating retrieved samples of exposed terrestrial microbes and astronomical organic analogs on the exposure panels, one can investigate their survivals and alterations in the duration of interplanetary transport. These samples continue to be returned to ground laboratories after retrieval to the Earth in 2017, 2018 and finally 2019.
The TANPOPO employs blocks of ultra-low dense aerogels on the Capture Panels (CP) that are exposed and retrieved to capture impacting solid microparticles such as organic-bearing micrometeoroids and possible terrestrial particles in the low Earth orbit. In case of microparticles of terrestrial origin impacted into the CPs, one can test if terrestrial microbes (e.g., aerosols embedding microbial colonies) may be present, even temporarily and in “freeze dry” form in the low earth orbit altitudes. Also by evaluating retrieved samples of exposed terrestrial microbes and astronomical organic analogs on the Exposure Panels (EP), one can investigate their survivals and alterations in the duration of interplanetary transport.
The TANPOPO experiment consists of following six sub-themes: 1) capture of microbes in space, 2) exposure of microbes in space, 3) exposure of organic compounds in space, 4) capture of organic compounds in micrometeoroids in space, 5) evaluation of ultra low-density aerogel developed for the Tanpopo mission, and 6) capture of space debris at the ISS orbit. Each will utilize one or more CP and EP samples from various pointing faces onboard the ExHAM as the ISS is a earth gravity gradient three-axis stabilized satellite.
The ISAC procedure has covered from the receipt of retrieved samples, their initial inspection and documentation, processing and distribution of the samples for detailed analyses of each sub-theme, cataloging for data archiving and to sample storage. For initial inspection and documentation, the Captured Particles Location, Observation and Extraction System (CLOXS) mapped and measured more than 60 hypervelocity penetration tracks and captured particles (e.g., incoming angle, track depth and track volume) on 8 of the first year tanpopo aerogel panels at the ISO-1 level clean environment achieved at the ISAS clean room. Then the CLOXS then processed keystones containing microparticles to be inspected and their penetration tracks for allocation to respective sub-theme researchers, in accordance with their requests for the subsequent detailed analyses within the first 100 days after the Earth sample return, i.e., by January 2017.