2016-2017 USAP Field Season
Sampling comet dust from Antarctic air
Dr. Susan Taylor
Army Corps of Engineers
Supporting Stations: South Pole Station
Analyses of interplanetary dust particles (IDPs) collected in the stratosphere by aircraft have shown that some of these particles, the chondritic porous IDPs (CP-IDPs), are primitive materials. They contain vapor-deposited silicates thought to be preserved interstellar materials transported to the inner solar system by comets. Past researchers have collected rare ultra-carbonaceous micrometeorites and particles indistinguishable from CP-IDPs from melted Antarctic snow. These particles have shown affinities to CP-IDPs and grains of the Wild 2 comet. This project aims to collect samples to analyze the isotopic and elemental composition and describe their microstructure. The results will be used to catalog the diversity of the primitive materials, origin of the comets, and increase the permanent collection for the extraterrestrial materials community.
Field Season Overview
This is the first of three seasons for this project. Participants will travel to South Pole by fixed wing aircraft and spend three weeks working with ASC carpenters and electricians to install the dust collecter in Building 80, 250 feet from the Atmospheric Research Observatory (ARO).
Deploying Team Members