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Stardust Interstellar Preliminary Examination II: Curating the interstellar dust collector, picokeystones, and sources of impact tracks David R. FRANK 1* , Andrew J. WESTPHAL 2 , Michael E. ZOLENSKY 3 , Zack GAINSFORTH 2 , Anna L. BUTTERWORTH 2 , Ronald K. BASTIEN 1 , Carlton ALLEN 3 , David ANDERSON 2 , Asna ANSARI 4 , Sasa BAJT 5 , Nabil BASSIM 6 , Hans A. BECHTEL 7 , Janet BORG 8 , Frank E. BRENKER 9 , John BRIDGES 10 , Donald E. BROWNLEE 11 , Mark BURCHELL 12 , Manfred BURGHAMMER 13 , Hitesh CHANGELA 14 , Peter CLOETENS 13 , Andrew M. DAVIS 15,4 , Ryan DOLL 16 , Christine FLOSS 16 , George FLYNN 17 , Eberhard GR UN 18 , Philipp R. HECK 4 , Jon K. HILLIER 19 , Peter HOPPE 20 , Bruce HUDSON 21 , Joachim HUTH 20 , Brit HVIDE 4 , Anton KEARSLEY 22 , Ashley J. KING 15 , Barry LAI 23 , Jan LEITNER 20 , Laurence LEMELLE 24 , Hugues LEROUX 25 , Ariel LEONARD 16 , Robert LETTIERI 2 , William MARCHANT 2 , Larry R. NITTLER 26 , Ryan OGLIORE 27 , Wei Ja ONG 16 , Frank POSTBERG 19 , Mark C. PRICE 12 , Scott A. SANDFORD 28 , Juan-Angel Sans TRESSERAS 13 , Sylvia SCHMITZ 9 , Tom SCHOONJANS 29 , Geert SILVERSMIT 29 , Alexandre S. SIMIONOVICI 30 , Vicente A. SOL E 13 , Ralf SRAMA 31 , Thomas STEPHAN 15 , Veerle J. STERKEN 18,32 , Julien STODOLNA 2 , Rhonda M. STROUD 6 , Steven SUTTON 23 , Mario TRIELOFF 19 , Peter TSOU 33 , Akira TSUCHIYAMA 34 , Tolek TYLISZCZAK 7 , Bart VEKEMANS 29 , Laszlo VINCZE 29 , Joshua VON KORFF 2 , Naomi WORDSWORTH 35 , Daniel ZEVIN 2 , and >30,000 [email protected] dusters 36 1 ESCG, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, USA 2 Space Sciences Laboratory, U.C. Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA 3 ARES, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, USA 4 Robert A. Pritzker Center for Meteoritics and Polar Studies, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois, USA 5 DESY, Hamburg, Germany 6 Materials Science and Technology Division, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, District of Columbia, USA 7 Advanced Light Source, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Berkeley, California, USA 8 IAS Orsay, Orsay, France 9 Geoscience Institute, Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany 10 Space Research Centre, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK 11 Department of Astronomy, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA 12 University of Kent, Kent, UK 13 European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Grenoble, France 14 George Washington University, Washington, District of Columbia, USA 15 University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA 16 Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, USA 17 SUNY Plattsburgh, Plattsburgh, New York, USA 18 Max-Planck-Institut fur Kernphysik, Heidelberg, Germany 19 Institut für Geowissenschaften, Universität Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany 20 Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie, Mainz, Germany 21 Ontario, Canada 22 Natural History Museum, London, UK 23 Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory, Chicago, Illinois, USA 24 Ecole Normale Superieure de Lyon, Lyon, France 25 University Lille 1, Lille, France 26 Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, District of Columbia, USA 27 University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawai‘i, USA 28 NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, USA 29 University of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium 30 Institut des Sciences de la Terre, Observatoire des Sciences de l’Univers de Grenoble, Grenoble, France Meteoritics & Planetary Science 49, Nr 9, 1522–1547 (2014) doi: 10.1111/maps.12147 1522 © The Meteoritical Society, 2013.

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  • Stardust Interstellar Preliminary Examination II: Curating the interstellar dustcollector, picokeystones, and sources of impact tracks

    David R. FRANK1*, Andrew J. WESTPHAL2, Michael E. ZOLENSKY3, Zack GAINSFORTH2,Anna L. BUTTERWORTH2, Ronald K. BASTIEN1, Carlton ALLEN3, David ANDERSON2,

    Asna ANSARI4, Sasa BAJT5, Nabil BASSIM6, Hans A. BECHTEL7, Janet BORG8,Frank E. BRENKER9, John BRIDGES10, Donald E. BROWNLEE11, Mark BURCHELL12,

    Manfred BURGHAMMER13, Hitesh CHANGELA14, Peter CLOETENS13, Andrew M. DAVIS15,4,Ryan DOLL16, Christine FLOSS16, George FLYNN17, Eberhard GR UN18, Philipp R. HECK4,

    Jon K. HILLIER19, Peter HOPPE20, Bruce HUDSON21, Joachim HUTH20, Brit HVIDE4,Anton KEARSLEY22, Ashley J. KING15, Barry LAI23, Jan LEITNER20, Laurence LEMELLE24,

    Hugues LEROUX25, Ariel LEONARD16, Robert LETTIERI2, William MARCHANT2,Larry R. NITTLER26, Ryan OGLIORE27, Wei Ja ONG16, Frank POSTBERG19, Mark C. PRICE12,

    Scott A. SANDFORD28, Juan-Angel Sans TRESSERAS13, Sylvia SCHMITZ9, Tom SCHOONJANS29,Geert SILVERSMIT29, Alexandre S. SIMIONOVICI30, Vicente A. SOLE13, Ralf SRAMA31,Thomas STEPHAN15, Veerle J. STERKEN18,32, Julien STODOLNA2, Rhonda M. STROUD6,

    Steven SUTTON23, Mario TRIELOFF19, Peter TSOU33, Akira TSUCHIYAMA34,Tolek TYLISZCZAK7, Bart VEKEMANS29, Laszlo VINCZE29, Joshua VON KORFF2,Naomi WORDSWORTH35, Daniel ZEVIN2, and >30,000 [email protected] dusters36

    1ESCG, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, USA2Space Sciences Laboratory, U.C. Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA

    3ARES, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, USA4Robert A. Pritzker Center for Meteoritics and Polar Studies, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois, USA

    5DESY, Hamburg, Germany6Materials Science and Technology Division, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, District of Columbia, USA

    7Advanced Light Source, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Berkeley, California, USA8IAS Orsay, Orsay, France

    9Geoscience Institute, Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany10Space Research Centre, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK

    11Department of Astronomy, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA12University of Kent, Kent, UK

    13European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Grenoble, France14George Washington University, Washington, District of Columbia, USA

    15University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA16Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, USA17SUNY Plattsburgh, Plattsburgh, New York, USA

    18Max-Planck-Institut fur Kernphysik, Heidelberg, Germany19Institut fr Geowissenschaften, Universitt Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany

    20Max-Planck-Institut fr Chemie, Mainz, Germany21Ontario, Canada

    22Natural History Museum, London, UK23Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory, Chicago, Illinois, USA

    24Ecole Normale Superieure de Lyon, Lyon, France25University Lille 1, Lille, France

    26Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, District of Columbia, USA27University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

    28NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, USA29University of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium

    30Institut des Sciences de la Terre, Observatoire des Sciences de lUnivers de Grenoble, Grenoble, France

    Meteoritics & Planetary Science 49, Nr 9, 15221547 (2014)

    doi: 10.1111/maps.12147

    1522 The Meteoritical Society, 2013.

  • 31IRS, University Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany32IGEP, TU Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany

    33Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, USA34Osaka University, Osaka, Japan35South Buckinghamshire, UK

    36Worldwide*Corresponding author. E-mail: [email protected]

    (Received 15 January 2013; revision accepted 17 May 2013)

    AbstractWe discuss the inherent difficulties that arise during ground truthcharacterization of the Stardust interstellar dust collector. The challenge of identifyingcontemporary interstellar dust impact tracks in aerogel is described within the context ofbackground spacecraft secondaries and possible interplanetary dust particles andb-meteoroids. In addition, the extraction of microscopic dust embedded in aerogel istechnically challenging. Specifically, we provide a detailed description of the samplepreparation techniques developed to address the unique goals and restrictions of theInterstellar Preliminary Exam. These sample preparation requirements and the scarcity ofcandidate interstellar impact tracks exacerbate the difficulties. We also illustrate the role ofinitial optical imaging with critically important examples, and summarize the overallprocessing of the collection to date.


    The collection of contemporary interstellar dustparticles (ISPs) was a secondary goal of the Stardustmission (Brownlee et al. 2003), but the preliminaryexamination entailed an intensive 6 yr effort. Prior tocapture, Landgraf et al. (1999a) estimated thatapproximately 120 ISPs (including ~40 > 1 lm) wouldimpact the aerogel in the Stardust interstellar dustcollector (SIDC). The extreme scarcity and anticipatedsizes of ISPs make their aerogel tracks tremendouslyelusive. Therefore, since the return of the Stardustsamples in 2006, there has been a mammoth effort toidentify potential interstellar candidate tracks in theSIDC. Success was made possible only by [email protected] project (Westphal et al. 2014a), aunique scientific endeavor that distributed highresolution imaging of the SIDC worldwide to >30,000volunteers for searching.

    In addition to ISP candidates, the identified tracksinclude secondaries from the spacecraft, and possibly,sporadic interplanetary dust particles (IDPs). Wecalculated the most likely track angles arising fromsecondary impacts on the spacecraft, in order tohypothesize a likely origin (primary versus secondary)for a given track without extraction or analysis. Wealso carried out quantitative dynamical modeling ofb-meteoroids and IDPs in bound orbits that emit thezodiacal light. These models can be used to predict themost likely particle trajectories for IDPs at Stardust.

    Throughout the paper, we address the inherentscientific and flight-related complexities that preventnon-destructive, unambiguous verification of aninterstellar origin for cosmic particle impact tracks. Wehave also addressed unprecedented sample preparationrequirements that do not simply add an additionalcomplication; they compound the challenge in asynergistic way. Consequently, in order to characterizeand preserve this unique collection, the StardustInterstellar Preliminary Examination (ISPE) required amassive collaboration consisting of six independentprojects defined by Westphal et al. (2014b): candidateidentification via [email protected], extraction andphoto-documentation, X-ray microprobe character-ization, foil crater search and electron beam analysis,dynamical modeling of ISP propagation and knownIDP streams, and laboratory simulations ofhypervelocity dust impacts in aerogel. Interstellarcandidate track extraction and photo-documentation isthe second independent project, described here with itsrelationship to other projects during the ISPE (theseother projects are described in detail in the companionpapers of this volume). On the basis of what we havelearned, we also consider future curatorial options forthe collection.

    For a total of 195 days in 2000 and 2002, the SIDCwas exposed to the interstellar dust flux. Based onmeasurements by the Galileo and Ulysses satellites(Frisch et al. 1999), a nominal flow direction of 259ecliptic longitude and 8 ecliptic latitude (k = 259,

    Interstellar candidate curation and backgrounds 1523

  • a = 8) was assumed for the Stardust mission. Byrotating the spacecraft in the ecliptic and rotating thecollector with respect to the spacecraft, the SIDC wasoriented so that it remained roughly orthogonal to thisassumed flow, throughout both ISP collection periods.This three-axis stabilization was achieved withStardusts hydrazine propulsion system, but Stardustwas permitted to drift by 15 about each of threeperpendicular axes (Hirst and Yen 1999). This three-axisdrift is commonly referred to as the spacecraftsdeadband.

    The SIDC consisted of two passive collectingmedia: 0.1039 m2 of silica aerogel and approximately1.4 9 102 m2 of Al foil. 132 aerogel tiles were insertedinto an Al frame and flown under compression thatinduced moderate fracture. The tile perimeters haveundergone varying degrees of cracking and flaking fromthe tile insertion, removal, and possibly shock stressfrom the landing. We estimate that approximately 20%of the total space-exposed area is damaged to a degreethat prevents optical identification of small (0.3 lm in diameter. Laboratory simulations byPostberg et al. (2014) and an analysis of detectionefficiency by Westphal et al. (2014a) indicate that thisparticle size is near the detection threshold. If we thenassume that 20% of the collecting area is damaged (asdescribed above), we estimate a total of approximately40 detectable ISP impacts in the SIDC. The dynamicsof the ISP population that penetrates through the innerheliosphere are dominated by a parameter b, which isthe ratio of solar radiation pressure to solar gravity(Landgraf et al. 1999b). However, unknown materialproperties for individual ISPs and poorly constrainedinitial conditions (at the termination shock) introducesubstantial uncertainty in the model: the distribution ofb is unknown, the average ISP velocity vector has a 2rrange of approximately 78 in ecliptic longitude (Frischet al. 1999), and the full time-dependent Lorentz forcefor individual particles is not readily formulated withmodel accuracy. This combination prevents preciseprediction of the ISP velocity distribution at Stardust.Figs. 13 by Westphal et al. (2014b) illustrate theexpected trajectories of ISPs relative to Stardusts orbitand the SIDC for a range of b values and initial eclipticlongitudes. In addition, the Stardust spacecraft wassubjected to a constant 3-axis deadband of 15, theresult of which is inherent uncertainty in the actualtrajectory of a particle (in ecliptic coordinates) withrespect to its track. Because of these reasons, rigorousproof of interstellar origin for a given sample willrequire measurement of anomalous isotopic signatures.Any identification of a bona fide ISP may serve totighten constraints on the model parameters, initiating apositive feedback loop between the model andobservations of the SIDC. In this scenario, a wellcollimated population of tracks made by particles withsimilar material properties (i.e., similar b) could perhapsbe inferred as interstellar in origin with isotopic data onone of its members. The midnight tracks reported byWestphal et al. (2014b) are one such population. On theother hand, particles that are compositionally exoticand/or consist primarily of known presolar phases inchondrites should be excused from destruction whilemaintaining ISP status.

    1524 D. R. Frank et al.

  • Interplanetary Dust Particles

    The IDP cloud is continuously fed primarily bycometary emissions and is a potential source of dust inthe SIDC. Using observations of the zodiacal light,Nesvorny et al. (2010) derived a distribution of orbitalparameters for the majority of the IDPs that make upthis cloud. Using these IDP eccentricities andinclinations in a Monte Carlo simulation, we find astrong depletion of the IDP flux within the eclipticwhen h > ~1020 (Fig. 2a). On the other hand, we finda concentration of the flux at normal incidence(h < ~1020) to the SIDC (Fig. 2b). However, ISPcollection occurred within the main asteroid belt at2.12.6 AU, and random asteroid collisions near thetime of flight may have contributed to the local dustenvironment. Such events could conceivably ejectmicron-sized IDPs within the ecliptic, and with aresulting velocity vector that is rotated (in eclipticlatitude) only approximately 8 from ISPs. With thedeadband uncertainty of 15, we cannot rule out anunknown number of inadvertently captured sporadic

    IDPs with trajectories and compositions similar to thosepredicted for ISPs. However, a subset of these may bedecipherable with chemical and mineralogicalcharacterization alone. The observed depletion of S incold, dense molecular clouds may be present ascircumstellar FeS (Keller et al. 2002), and stellaroutflows may contribute this phase to the ISM.However, the state of S in the ISM is uncertain,principally because the astronomical observations arelimited, probably biased, and are difficult to normalize(Jenkins 2009). But in general, S is not one of the majorcondensable elements that have observed order-of-magnitude depletion in the diffuse ISM (Draine 2009).On the other hand, sulfides are ubiquitous in allchondritic IDPs, with pentlandite and high-Nipyrrhotite prevalent among hydrous IDPs as productsof aqueous alteration (Zolensky and Thomas 1995; Daiand Bradley 2001). In a practical sense, if a grain in theSIDC is dominated by Fe/Ni sulfides, an interplanetaryorigin should be suspected. If pentlandite, high-Nipyrrhotite, and/or phyllosilicates are present, aninterplanetary origin may be confirmed.

    Fig. 1. Schematic of the Stardust Interstellar Dust Collector illustrating the azimuth (/) and zenith (h) for an arbitrary track.The top view shows the definition of track azimuth, /, with the locations and numbers of the 132 aerogel tiles. The side viewillustrates track zenith, h, measured with respect to the cometary collector normal.

    Interstellar candidate curation and backgrounds 1525

  • b-Meteoroids

    b-Meteoroids are IDPs that escape from the innersolar system in unbound orbits when solar radiationpressure exceeds solar gravity due to sublimation orfragmentation from collisions (Wehry et al. 2004). Oneof the science planning constraints in the StardustMission Plan (Hirst and Ryan 2002) forbids exposureof the SIDC to the b-meteoroid flux, assumed to benearly radial in direction. Nevertheless, some exposurewas permitted for communication, trajectory correctionmaneuvers (TCMs), spacecraft deadbanding, and insupport of the flyby to asteroid 5535 Annefrank. Here,we demonstrate that these activities were brief induration and resulted in minimal exposure of theSIDC, but at the expense of exposing the cometarycollector.

    We assume a radial direction for the b-meteoroidflux. Then, the position vector, r

    !, of the spacecraft in

    ecliptic coordinates is continuously parallel to the flux. Ifwe then define a unit vector, n, normal to the cometarycollector, the value of the dot product nr gives theeffective area of the collector surface exposed to the flux,expressed as a fraction of the total area. This conventionoutputs positive values during exposure of the SIDC andnegative values during exposure of the cometarycollector. The values of n and r, at hourly intervals, areobtained from the dataset provided by Farnham andSemenov (2006). These data consist of actual spacecraftorientation computed on board and telemetered to theDeep Space Network. Fig. 3 shows the orientations of nand r at different times and Fig. 4 contains the

    computed values of nr throughout the two ISP collectionperiods. Since an impact in the SIDC is a distinctpossibility, while a statistically significant population islikely to have been captured in the cometary aerogel, itis important to understand the allowed trajectories(displayed as track angles). A particular b-meteoroidtrajectory (relative to the SIDC) is a function of itsspeed in the ecliptic, the relative velocity of Stardust,and the orientation of the SIDC at the time of impact.Using data obtained by the Ulysses spacecraft, Wehryet al. (2004) constrains so-called classical b-meteoroidsin the ecliptic to a range of 2050 km s1, although thestatistical distribution of speeds is poorly constrained.Nevertheless, we can still constrain the allowedtrajectories in the SIDC since there are only a few briefperiods when capture is possible. After adopting thecollector reference frame, we can calculate the relativearrival speeds and trajectories of b-meteoroids impactingthe collectors as a function of time and average speed (inthe ecliptic). Fig. 5 plots the allowed values of trackzenith (h) for the minimum and maximum speeds forb-meteoroids in the ecliptic (20 and 50 km s1),constraining the possibilities for a given time.

    During the first collection, the zenith angles forthe entire range of b-meteoroid speeds plunge below(and return above) the 90 cut-off simultaneously.Estimating the total time-integrated b-meteoroidfluence over those time intervals is straightforward.During the second collection period, there are timeswhen only b-meteoroids with certain speeds will reachthe SIDC. To be conservative, we assume the worst-case scenario, and accept the entire distribution of

    Fig. 2. Monte Carlo simulations of interplanetary dust particle trajectories relative to the Stardust Interstellar Dust Collector,taking into account the longitudinal tracking of the nominal interstellar dust particle flow direction (k = 259). Each data pointrepresents a track with h = its radial coordinate and / = its azimuth. Particle trajectories with / = 0 are above the center andwith / = 180 are below the center. Each concentric circle represents 30 in h. a) The simulation run with 105 events shows strongdepletion of the flux around the midnight (/ = 0) and 6 oclock (/ = 180) directions. b) The same simulation run with 104 pointsshows that concentration occurs near normal incidence.

    1526 D. R. Frank et al.

  • Fig. 3. Collector geometry at different orbital positions (1 and 2). The collector was rotated to different orientations with respectto the spacecraft such that the assumed trajectory (k = 259 longitude in ecliptic) of the interstellar dust stream was orthogonalto the Stardust Interstellar Dust Collector. That is, k1 = k2 = 259. At the first position, n1:r1\0, and the cometary collector isexposed to the b-meteoroid flux. At the second idealized position, n2:r2 0, and neither collector is exposed. Note that thesevalues are independent of a spacecraft rotation about the r axes.

    53 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100 105 110 115 120 1220.8












    Day of year (2000)

    217 225 230 235 240 245 250 255 260 265 270 275 280 285 290 295 300 305 310 315 320 325 330 335 343

    Day of year (2002)



    n o

    f co






    d t

    o b




    id f


    Collector normal orthogonal to flux

    Collector normal orthogonal to flux

    TCM7a Annefrank flyby

    Fig. 4. Collector exposure to the b-meteoroid flux (negative values indicate exposure of the cometary collector). The collectionperiods during the first and second orbits are shown at top and bottom, respectively. The many sharp peaks denote spacecraftmaneuvers for communication and the background noise delineates spacecraft deadbanding.

    Interstellar candidate curation and backgrounds 1527

  • speeds anytime h < 90 for any speed. The resulting valueis then taken to be an upper limit for the SIDCs fluenceestimate.

    SIDC fluence\DtZ


    nt rtWt dt (1)

    Cometary fluence DtZ

    h[ 90

    nt rtWt dt (2)

    where is the flux (m2 s1) and Dt = 3,600 s is thetime interval between each value of t. We use the fluxmeasured by the Ulysses spacecraft during its passagethrough the ecliptic (Wehry et al. 2004). This value atapproximately 1.3 AU is 1.5 9 104 m2 s1 20%.Since Stardusts ISP collection periods took place atr = 2.12.6 AU, we can account for the decay of witha simple r2 dependence.

    W1:3 AU 1:5 104 m2s1 ) Wr r=1:32W1:3 2:5 104 m2s1r2


    Finally, letting w = 2.5 9 104 m2 s1 andA = the area of some region of interest gives theexpected number of impacts on the collectors, where NI

    and NC are the expected number of impacts on theSIDC and cometary collector, respectively. [This articlewas corrected on 19 July 2013. In the previoussentence and in Equations 45, Greek symbols werechanged to lowercase psi. Author affiliations were alsocorrected.]



    nt rtrt2dt (4)

    NC wADtZ

    h[ 90

    nt rtrt2dt (5)

    Table 1 lists the calculated values of Equations 4and 5 for the aerogel and aluminum foils on bothcollectors. We have also put constraints on the arrivalspeeds and zenith angles. We estimate

  • a deadband uncertainty of 15, we expect to only findb-meteoroids with / = 180 ~35. The Sterken et al.(2014) ISP propogation model predicts that ISPs in thisregion will impact the SIDC at

  • SRC, now on display at the Smithsonian Air andSpace Museum (Fig. 7). The nature of contaminantswith minor abundances was investigated at U.C.Berkeley with a Tescan Vega3 SEM with OxfordX-Max 80 EDX detector, without cleaning. Elementmaps of the anodized surfaces were conducted at both5 and 30 keV. Elements detected with >1 atom% wereC, O, F, Mg, and S. However, the Mg was found tooccur as discrete particles that covered

  • these coordinates to the micromanipulators in order tomill aerogel in an automated fashion. Other details ofthis automated keystone extraction system for standardcometary keystones have been previously well developedand described; we do not elaborate on them here.Instead, we are concerned here with the challengesunique to extracting candidate interstellar dust impacttracks for analysis and the resulting refinements andnew procedures that have been developed.

    Westphal et al. (2004) also proposed the concept ofa very thin picokeystone for extractions from the SIDC.Picokeystones are similar to their keystone predecessors,but with the aerogel surrounding the track milled out toapproximately 70 lm thick (Fig. 10). We named thisportion of the picokeystone the pico, and refer to itsthickness as the pico thickness. This is roughly one-tenth of the thickness of an average cometary keystone.Achieving this level of precision, reliably, required anew set of techniques that were developed on flight

    spare aerogel. A great deal of trial and error (i.e.,mangling of picokeystones) led to substantialrefinements and a routine extraction procedure.

    High Precision Aerogel Milling for Picokeystones

    Making the critical cuts to carve out the thin slicesof aerogel around candidate interstellar dust tracks is atechnical challenge. Cutting the aerogel surroundingtracks to a thickness of 70 lm in turn requires needlesto pierce the aerogel at a distance of approximately35 lm on each side of the track. With this tolerance,several corrections to the previously established methodwere necessary.

    During the milling procedure, external vibrationswere minimized with a floating vibration isolation table.This was sufficient for cometary keystones where thecutting path was usually placed no less than 100 lmfrom any track material. However, at the picokeystone

    Fig. 9. Focused Ion Beam section from H6107,1. Backscatter and secondary electron images (left) and the pits containing anAl/C-rich material (right).

    Fig. 8. Secondary electron image of H6107,1, with a 200 lm 9 200 lm field of view and its EDX spectrum/quantification.

    Interstellar candidate curation and backgrounds 1531

  • scale, the acceleration of our milling tool by themicromanipulator motors caused vibrations thatmangled the surrounding aerogel. By reducing speedand acceleration, we reduced aerogel mangling, butdramatically increased the overall milling duration. Afurther refinement was necessary, so we maximized theprecision and smoothness of the critical millingoperations around candidate ISP tracks by achievingthe best possible alignment. Previously, we usedgoniometers to align the needle axes within 1 of themilling axes; acceptable for the cruder, more distantoperations from the track material. Our new procedureincluded this, plus a precise measurement of the needlesalignment error, using the coordinate read-out from themanipulator controller itself. Prior to each extraction,we entered this information into the MATLAB codethat compiles the matrix of coordinates into a set ofscripts that define the motion of the needles. Theneedles motions are then exactly along their axes. Tocomplete a total alignment, we lower the needle to thesurface of the aerogel in extremely fine increments untilwe just slightly scratch the surface withinapproximately 2 lm. When we combined the new

    alignment procedure with moderate speeds, we wereable to eliminate mangling of the aerogel and achieveunprecedented precision required to mill outpicokeystones reliably, and in less than a 48 h period.

    An additional pitfall resulted from small(approximately 3 C) temperature changes in the room.With this amount of change, thermal expansion of thesteel rods was significant enough to distort the millingpath by an unacceptable amount. Normally,temperatures in the curatorial laboratories at theJohnson Space Center (JSC) are tightly controlled.However, occasional problems with the air-handlingunit that supplies conditioned air to the lab can occurwithout warning. The only viable solution to thisproblem was to monitor the critical cuts that mill outthe pico in real time, and allow the other non-criticalcuts that cut out the main keystone body to be executedovernight.

    Preservation of Possible Diffuse Volatiles and Organics

    Another concern arose from the picokeystonesfundamental design. The silica aerogel flown on the

    0.5 mm


    Fig. 10. An illustration of picokeystone geometry. The picokeystones are shown attached to the silicon microforks used forextraction from their parent aerogel tiles. At the upper-left is a compound microscope image of the picokeystone I1003,1,40,0,0that harbors Sorok, a likely impact by an interstellar grain. The 35 lm deep track is enlarged next to this side view. At thebottom-left, this picokeystones quarry, the excavated volume in its parent aerogel tile, is imaged from above. Note the aerogelcut away from the track area still preserved and attached to the quarry. To the right is a blank picokeystone imaged with astereomicroscope to emphasize its three-dimensional structure. The high precision cuts milled out a smooth sliver of aerogeldown to approximately 50 lm thick.

    1532 D. R. Frank et al.

  • Stardust mission has a tremendously high porosity. Ifan ISP has an organic or volatile component, it may bepossible (and in fact quite likely) for it to vaporize anddiffuse into the surrounding aerogel upon impact.Evidence of this was observed by Bajt et al. (2009)around impact tracks from comet 81P/Wild 2 particles.For an ISP, the radius of influence from the impactpoint is highly uncertain. We implemented a newmilling sequence that preserves this surrounding aerogeland leaves it attached to the aerogel tile after thepicokeystone is extracted, as shown in Fig. 10.

    Preservation of Track Trajectory: Tile Removal andWitness Tracks

    One ISPE requirement was to ensure that tracktrajectory could be reconstructed, post-extraction, ifnecessary. These trajectories can be used to identifyprobable secondaries arising from the spacecrafts solarpanels and definitive tracks with a cosmic origin. Ingeneral, the surfaces of the aerogel tiles are not exactlyparallel to the aluminum collector frame and/or havesome topography. Initially, our approach was toconduct the automated scanning for [email protected] the entire collector mounted on the scanningsystem, and to make in situ extractions with thisconfiguration as well. In this scenario, the imagerytaken for [email protected] accurately archives thetrajectory of any discovered track. As an additionalmeasure, after precisely aligning and measuring theangle of the 45 needle, we would place one singlewitness track in the region of aerogel to be extracted.By knowing the exact angle and depth of this witnesstrack within a picokeystone, relative to the plane of thecollector, reconstructing the impact angle of a trackpost-extraction is trivial.

    The first extractions were carried out in this mannerin the Cosmic Dust Lab at JSC. However, anunprecedented and unforeseeable event forced re-evaluation of the extraction procedure. The air handlingsystems and accompanying networks of electricalcontrol panels on-site at JSC are quite complex. On anotherwise ordinary day, a fluke disconnect in one of thecontrol panels set off a chain reaction of events thatultimately stopped the flow of chilled water to the air-handling unit that supplies air to the Cosmic Dust Lab,while leaving the outside air dampers open. Thisoccurred in August in Houston, TX, so extremely hotand humid outside air was supplied unconditioned tothe Cosmic Dust Lab where the temperature is normallymaintained around 19 C. Severe condensation rapidlyformed on all of the labs cold surfaces. Fortunately,this triggered a water alarm in the Cosmic Dust Labthat was installed after a water spill incident in 1985,

    and we were able to immediately address the problem.Although the Stardust samples were all sealed in N2-purged cabinets and not in jeopardy, if the collector hadbeen exposed at the time, damage to the aerogel due towater absorption could have been significant. A high-humidity sensor and alarm system was installed toautomatically stop the flow of outside air and ensurethe flow of chilled water during a future, unanticipatedhigh-humidity event. Nevertheless, if such an event wereto occur overnight, the labs humidity could remainhigh enough and linger long enough to dampen itscooler constituents. The curators at JSC considered therisk of exposing the entire collection to a potentiallydetrimental amount of damage unacceptable. Our initialresponse was to simply cease cutting operations at theend of each working day and put the collector away inits sealed N2-purged cabinet. However, this proceduresoverwhelmingly impractical, inefficient, and immenselydifficult nature quickly became apparent. Consequently,we began to pull individual aerogel tiles from thecollector for scanning and extractions, as had been donefor cometary tiles. In this scenario, preservation of tracktrajectory required preservation of tile orientation; anon-trivial demand.

    If aerogel behaved like a rigid body, preserving theorientation of the tiles, as they lie in the collector,would be trivial. Changes in the orientation of a tilewould then be limited to its three rotational degrees offreedom. However, aerogel is elastic. We know thatdifferent manufactured batches of the flown aerogelhave different densities and that different aerogel tileswere placed into the collector under varying amounts ofcompression. The amount of expansion and howuniform it would be after removal from the collectorwas unknown. In addition, cracks, flaking, andimperfections in the aerogel could result in localizedchanges during the tile-pulling procedure. To addressthis issue, we placed an array of 15 witness tracks ineach aerogel tile prior to removal, recording theirprecise locations, angles, and depths. In addition, we dothe same for the four adjacent aerogel tiles, sincecutting the foils exposed on the collecting surface canalter the orientation of those as well.

    After the removal of an aerogel tile from thecollector, it was mounted in an aluminum clamp forscanning (Fig. 11). We designed these holders to includetwo major features. First, springs allowed the clamp tobe precisely tightened, holding the aerogel so that it wassecure enough for making picokeystones, but withoutcausing damage from over-tightening. Second, theholder sat on three vertical screws threaded through theclamp, allowing optimal orientation of the tile surfacefor scanning and picokeystone extractions. Three siliconchips were attached to the holder with minute droplets

    Interstellar candidate curation and backgrounds 1533

  • of cyanoacrylate to serve as fiducial marks for scanning.We placed the holders on the scanning platform toroughly simulate the orientation at which they sat in thecollector and made precise measurements of the fiducialmarks relative positions. After scanning and trackidentification, we were able to reconstruct the exacttrack trajectory relative to the plane of the collector, ifnecessary. By measuring the change in relative witnesstrack positions, we could invert any arbitrary rotationof the aerogel tile as a whole. A close examination ofthe nearest witness tracks to the real track enabled us toassess the possibility of local distortion. As of thiswriting, major changes in aerogel structure after tileremoval from the collector have not been observed, andthis has not been necessary. However, future tilesremoved from the SIDC may exhibit such a distortion.Thus, our continued approach is to make everyreasonable effort to preserve all of the original particletrajectory information that was imprinted upon thecollector.

    Picokeystone Mounting for Analysis: Silicon NitrideWindows

    Picokeystones require an alternative mount to thestandard silicon microforks used for cometarykeystones that normally hold a keystone very securelywith its barbed architecture. There have been occasionalreports of lost cometary keystones due to microforkmalfunction, either from breakage or afterspontaneously falling off the fork-mount. With near-zero sample loss as a goal, this risk was unacceptable.As we refined our extraction procedure using non-flightaerogel, we exploited the picokeystone prototypes toinvestigate the feasibility of various sample mounts. Thesilicon microforks used as a standard mount for

    cometary keystones continue to be the best tool for theactual removal of a picokeystone from its parentaerogel tile. However, after extraction, we removed thepicokeystone from its microforks by hand, carefullyapplying pressure to the main keystone body with afine, single hair paintbrush. Using static force, we thenused the brush to pick up and place the picokeystone inthe well of a Norcada silicon nitride (Si3N4) window.We used 70 nm or 50 nm thick windows with a 200 lmdeep well. A second Si3N4 window was secured on top,either with a micromanipulator and cyanoacrylate, orby fastening custom-machined Al plates with screws(080 thread count) and alignment pins (Fig. 12). Useof this mounting jig prevented picokeystone distortionat the moment of assembly. We cut our picokeystonesto approximately 430 lm thick so that the mainpicokeystone body was subjected to just enoughcompression to hold it firmly during analysis andprevent movement. We conduct this process under astereomicroscope and use a 210Po low emitting a-sourceto dissipate excess charge that accumulates on thepicokeystone surface and surrounding materials that canresult in random, chaotic movements. With an averagemass of approximately 3.5 lg, picokeystones canacquire a large charge to mass ratio, and have beenknown to fly away.

    This mounting configuration is extremelyadvantageous. The Si3N4 sandwich is fixed to analuminum mount that was designed to be compatiblewith the different X-ray microprobe beams usedthroughout the ISPE, eliminating risky handling andremounting by investigators. These robust, semi-permanent homes were also designed to protect thesamples and minimize the possibility of contaminationand damage during analysis and transport. Moreover,in the unlikely event that the thin section of aerogelcontaining the track separates itself from the mainkeystone body, during shipping or some other violentepisode, the track would not be lost.

    STXM Requirements and Pico Thickness

    The main goal of STXM measurements during theISPE was the analysis of the major elements C, O, Mg,Al, Si, and Fe. The attenuation of STXMs soft X-raysby silica aerogel is a function of beam energy, aerogeldensity, and sample thickness. We can cut thepicokeystone thickness with an uncertainty ofapproximately 5 lm, and there is only approximately0.2 eV uncertainty in STXMs beam energy. Thus, it isunfortunate to have such a wide range of aerogeldensities (approximately 1050 mg cm3). Not allelements (especially C and O) can be accuratelyquantified in the denser aerogel, and in the densest, Fe

    Fig. 11. An aerogel tile mounted in a custom-designedaluminum clamp that facilitates its handling for bothautomated scanning and extractions. In this image, ourneedles are being prepared to begin cutting a picokeystone. A209 objective with a 3.0 cm working distance provides amplespace for needle manipulation and ideal magnification formonitoring critical cuts.

    1534 D. R. Frank et al.

  • is on the edge of detection limits. Initially, we cut ourpicokeystone prototypes to 50 lm, but making theseextractions in situ from the collector was problematic.The foils folded underneath the aerogel tiles partiallyobscured transmitted light, and the needle cast a darkshadow over our field of view. In addition, we wereusing a steel rod more than twice as long than forcometary extractions, and this exacerbated the needlevibration. As a precaution, we decided to increase thestandard pico thickness to 70 lm.

    With the technique refined, and applied to single tileextractions post-ISPE, we can be more aggressive in thefuture with the pico thickness and return to 50 lmstandards. It may also be a reasonable risk to even takea 40 lm slice from the denser aerogel, especially if it isrequired to accommodate X-ray transmission at the700 eV Fe L-edge. Therefore, knowledge of an aerogeltiles density prior to an extraction is extremely valuable.We can obtain an initial estimate with a measurement ofthe aerogels index of refraction (Jurewicz et al. 2007). Ifthere is any significant aerogel density gradient, weshould see an extreme value in at least one of the fourcorners. Or, if practical, a blank picokeystone can beextracted from each tile to have its density measured bySTXM. Ultimately, using these density measurementswith the following calculations would provide a reliableframework for determining the optimal pico thickness,weighing scientific gain against risk.

    The transmission, T, expressed as the ratio oftransmitted to incident photon fluence, through amaterial with density q (g cm3), thickness t (cm), andphotoabsorption cross section l (cm2 g1) is readilycalculated from

    T elqt (6)

    where l is a function of beam energy and material. Afteraccounting for attenuation due to both the aerogel

    (density qa and thickness ta) and Si3N4 windows (densityqw = 3.44 g cm

    3 and thickness tw), Equation 6 becomes

    T elaqatalwqwtw (7)


    ta lnT lwqwtwlaqa 15% (8)

    where la and lw are the photoabsorption cross sectionsfor aerogel and Si3N4 windows, respectively. Theestimated uncertainty arises from the additiveuncertainties in lw and la. We calculate these valuesfrom Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratorys Centerfor X-ray Optics (CXRO) values at http://henke.lbl.gov/optical_constants/. Generally, these are thought to beaccurate within 10% (Butterworth et al. 2012), so weassume a total uncertainty of approximately 15%.Reliable detection of an element limits the picothickness to a maximum, tmax (cm), permitting at least5% transmission. But to help ensure at least thisamount, we assume the 15% error, and with two 50 nmSi3N4 windows, Equation 8 becomes:

    tmax 0:852:996 3:440 105lw


    It should also be noted that Equation 6 does notapply when the incident beam energy is near theabsorption threshold of the target material. In our case,this precludes measurements of N, O, and Si in oursamples, but we know that limited Si K-edgemeasurements are possible against the background SiO2aerogel peak at 1847.5 eV, even through the densestaerogel. Therefore, we apply this model to the other

    Fig. 12. Si3N4 sandwich mounting for a picokeystone: On the left, a picokeystone is held securely between two Si3N4 windows.On the right, the Si3N4 sandwich is fixed in its universal, aluminum mount for analyses. The mounting jig behind this assemblyis used to align the Si3N4 windows precisely.

    Interstellar candidate curation and backgrounds 1535

  • elements that are potentially present in ISPs and IDPs,and the definitive spacecraft contamination Ce. In orderof increasing edge energies relevant to STXM analyses,these are Cl, C, Ca, Ti, Cr, Mn, Fe, Ni, Ce, Na, Mg,Al, P, and S. For even the densest aerogel, we find thatobtaining adequate transmission through a 70 lmpicokeystone in a Si3N4 sandwich is ensured for thehigh edge energies of Ce, Na, Mg, Al, P, and S. Forthe least dense aerogel, adequate transmission of the200 eV Cl L-edge is not possible. Therefore, in Fig. 13we consider the maximum pico thickness, tmax, for theremaining elements that may not provide adequateX-ray transmission for detection. That is, elements whoseedge energies may not provide adequate transmissionfor reliable measurements. An additional caution isthat minor Mn may not be quantifiable in oxidizedphases due to peak overlap with the O K-edge. And inpractice, one should consider the largest measured valueof q, or perhaps a two standard deviation from themean.

    We also consider the option of performing futureanalyses with the picokeystone still mounted on siliconmicroforks, rather than being secured between twoSi3N4 windows. This would eliminate absorption/attenuation from the Si3N4, increasing the range ofaerogel densities over which we can detect nitrides and

    carbonaceous material. There is also an additionaltrade-off to consider. The risk of sample degradation orloss during transfer to the Si3N4 windows is removed,but loss due to a microfork complication is introduced.Our microforks rest in the cavity of a very thin, hollowglass tube that can easily be shattered if not handledproperly. Also, although it is typically obvious duringand after extraction if the forks are well attached, wecannot rule out the risk of a picokeystone falling offthem. Again, this risk is minimal for a well mountedpicokeystone on microforks. A more significant risk toconsider is the severance of the pico from the mainkeystone body. In addition, carbon deposition and othersources of contamination need to be carefully considered.Nevertheless, without Si3N4 windows, Equation 6 yields

    ta lnTlaqa 10% (10)


    tmax 2:696laqa(11)

    where we again have allowed for the estimateduncertainty. These new tmax values for the same element

    Fig. 13. On the left, the maximum pico thickness, tmax (from Equation 9), that permits at least 5% transmission of X-rayphotons at the low-energy absorption edges through two 50 nm Si3N4 windows and aerogel of varying density. The maximumaerogel densities (43 mg cm3 and 60 mg cm3) that correspond to at least 5% transmission at the Fe L-edge for 70 and 50 lmpicokeystones are shown. On the right, the maximum pico thickness, tmax (from Equation 11), that permits at least 5%transmission of X-ray photons at the low-energy absorption edges through aerogel of varying density, mounted without Si3N4.A 50 lm picokeystone accommodates this for all edge energies through the most common aerogel density (approximately25 mg cm3), and for the Fe L-edge energy through even the densest aerogel.

    1536 D. R. Frank et al.

  • absorption edges as before are shown in Fig. 13. Wealso now include the absorption edge for N, which maybe detectable in samples measured without Si3N4windows. With this configuration, a 50 lm picokeystoneof even the densest aerogel would permit at least 5%transmission of X-ray photons at the Fe L-edge. Atthe most common observed aerogel density ofapproximately 25 mg cm3, we see that transmission isadequate for quantification of all elements, including C.


    After extraction, but prior to mounting betweenSi3N4 windows, we acquired optical images to classifytracks based on morphology and trajectory alone. Whencompared to simulations, track morphology, track size,and TP size give clues about the impactors speed andstructure. Burchell et al. (2012) demonstrated that tracksarising from impacts off solar panel glass preserve theimpact angle within approximately 0.4. Therefore,

    track trajectory can be used to help distinguish solarpanel secondaries, impactors with a possible cosmicorigin, and impactors with a definitive cosmic origin. The71 unambiguous tracks (Westphal et al. 2014a) identifiedby [email protected] can be classified into 3 distinctpopulations, defined by their azimuth /. A histogram ofthese 71 tracks is displayed in Fig. 14, as a distributionof their azimuth angles in the collector, along with theexpected distribution of off-normal (h > ~20) IDPazimuths. Two other populations, discovered by initialoptical surveying, have distinct morphologies. Inaddition, there is a myriad of miscellaneous features thatare unlikely due to extraterrestrial particle impacts, butmay require extraction and further optical imaging, at aminimum, for confirmation.

    6 oClock/High Azimuth Tracks

    A track displaying a 6 oclock azimuth (anti-sunward), such that |/| > 160, has no line of sight to

    Fig. 14. A histogram of the measured azimuth angles for the 71 unambiguous tracks (red) with the distribution of expectedazimuth angles for off-normal interplanetary dust particles (blue) in the background. Also shown is the range of azimuth anglesfor solar panel secondaries from Fig. 6 (the solid line spans approximately 90% of the distribution and the dashed line containsthe remainder). The two tracks at / = 158 are nearly parallel and in the same tile, so are very likely to be solar panelsecondaries. (see online version for color figure.)

    Interstellar candidate curation and backgrounds 1537

  • the spacecraft and is inferred to be of primary cosmicorigin. No tracks have been identified in this region. Ahigh-azimuth track, such that 20 < |/| < 160, couldeither be a solar panel secondary or, possibly, could havea primary cosmic origin. The trackss zenith and exactlocation within the collector reduces this range anddefines a region (or regions) of certain solar panelsecondaries. However, since the collector was rotated (upto 62.6) from its fully extended position to track thek = 259, a = 8 trajectory, there is inherent ambiguity inthe origin of most of these tracks. 46 identified tracksfall in this range of azimuth. Of these, four wereextracted during the ISPE and all were confirmed assolar panel secondaries with Ce detection. Consequently,it appears that at least the majority of these tracks havea secondary origin. These include the longest tracksidentified and extracted from the SIDC (Fig. 15).

    Midnight Tracks

    Tracks with |/| < 20 (sunward) were namedmidnight tracks and can either have a cosmic origin orbe SRC secondaries. 24 tracks in this region wereidentified and 13 were extracted. Of these 13, eight wereconfirmed to be SRC secondaries: seven by the presenceof Al metal (Butterworth et al. 2014; Flynn et al. 2014)and one (track 37) by the presence of F (Butterworthet al. 2014). Analyses of track 2 (Table 2) wereinconclusive, and this tracks TP may require TEMcharacterization to confirm or rule out the presence ofSRC material. Track 38 was too optically dense forSTXM analysis, and track 40 contained no detectableresidue (see following discussion on bulbous tracks). Theremaining two tracks (30 and 34) have compositionsthat are inconsistent with SRC material (Table 2) andappear to have a cosmic origin. Fig. 16 displays thesetracks alongside an SRC secondary, demonstrating theirambiguous morphology. Notice the widening of track 2near the terminus and the moderately flattenedappearance of the Orion TP along the direction ofimpact. In addition, we did not observe any track wallresidue. This indicates that these grains may haveundergone some degree of plastic deformation but wereonly subjected to minimal, or no ablation.

    Bulbous Tracks

    Track 40 (Sorok) (Fig. 17) is a midnight track buthad a unique bulbous morphology. It appears to have alikely origin in the interstellar medium, inferred througha combination of optical characterization, simulationcomparison, and dynamical modeling. Sorok has a truebulbous morphology, lacking any coarse-grained TPs.Postberg et al. (2014) have shown that impact trackmorphologies created by sub-lm projectiles (in flight-spare aerogel) underwent important changes at impactspeeds approximately 1015 km s1. In general,increasing speed increases the track width/length ratio.Since Soroks residue had a mass below STXMdetection limits, it is important to understand the natureof high-speed (>15 km s1) ejecta hitting the SIDC, inorder to determine the likelihood of such an origin.Since Sorok also has a midnight trajectory, we assume ab-meteoroid projectile with the maximum kinetic energy

    Fig. 15. Secondaries from the solar panel cover glass. I1004,2,3,0,0 (track 3) is displayed above I1017,2,1,0,0 (track 1), thelongest track extracted from the Stardust Interstellar Dust Collector.

    Fig. 16. Optical images of midnight tracks. (Top to bottom)I1047,1,34,0,0 (Hylabrook), I1043,1,30,0,0 (Orion),I1004,1,2,0,0 (track 2), I1092,2,38,0,0 (track 38), andI1097,1,41,0,0 (track 41, a sample return capsule secondary).The initially faint tracks are obscured to an even greaterdegree by aerogel debris, created during the extraction process,clinging to the picokeystone surface.

    1538 D. R. Frank et al.

  • Table