20-EPN2-073: Assessment of the Aeolian Dispersion and Wind Effects on Cryptoendolithic Microorganisms in the Martian Environment

20-EPN2-073: Assessment of the Aeolian Dispersion and Wind Effects on Cryptoendolithic Microorganisms in the Martian Environment

Virtual visit by Lorenzo Aureli, University of Tuscia (Italy) to TA2.4 Planetary Environment Facilities (PEF), AU (Denmark).
Dates of visit: 15-19 November 2021

Report Summary: The hostile current conditions on the surface of Mars entail that, if any form of life exists or ever existed on the planet, it may have adopted survival strategies like those evolved by terrestrial microorganisms inhabiting extremely harsh regions, such as Antarctic deserts. Here, one of the most common strategies observed is the cryptoendolithic growth, defined as the colonisation of the small interstices inside rocks, where microorganisms are protected from external hostile conditions. However, endolithic microorganisms can break down the surrounding rock substratum, thus causing the exfoliation of the external layers of the colonised rocks. Consequently, exposure to wind and saltating sand can cause the dispersal of the shallow rock fragments and endolithic colonies to the environment.

This study aimed to examine the possibility of dispersal of hypothetical rock-dwelling microorganisms on the surface of Mars. To achieve this goal, colonised Antarctic sandstone rocks were exposed to simulated martian and terrestrial windy environments at the Planetary Environment Facility in Aarhus University in four different simulations. Rock, sand and dust samples were collected after each simulation to assess the survival and the variety of dispersed microorganisms in the two scenarios. Although biological data are not available at the moment of the draft of the report, remarkable differences were observed in the dispersal of dust and sand between the different conditions.

Read full report.


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20-EPN-084: Converting one amino acid to the other containing sulfur via ion irradiation: Implication to chemical evolution on Europa surface ices

20-EPN-084: Converting one amino acid to the other containing sulfur via ion irradiation : Implication to chemical evolution on Europa surface ices

Visit by Rahul Kumar Kushwaha, Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad (India) to TA2.11 Atomki Ice Chamber for Astrophysics / Astrochemistry (ICA) (Hungary).
Dates of visit: 8-19 December 2021

Report Summary: The non-equilibrium chemistry driven by the charged particle and photon irradiation processes are responsible for the rich chemistry on the surfaces of icy satellites. Among the icy satellites of the Jovian and Saturnian planetary systems, a few satellites such as Ganymede, Europa, Dione, Rhea, Callisto and Titan that are embedded in their respective planetary magnetospheres were observed to undergo rich chemical processes due to the bombardment of a wide range of energetic atomic and molecular ions that are present in their planet’s magnetospheres, which processes the icy surfaces of satellites by irradiation and implantation. Magnetospheres also help in bringing new species from one satellite to the other. Especially in the Jupiter system of icy satellites, sulfur transfer from Io to the other satellites is quite likely. The sulfur ions from Io are picked up by the magnetosphere and are accelerated towards the other icy satellites; Europa being the closest neighbour to Io will be implanted with sulfur ions. The Jovian satellites, due to the presence of the Jupiter’s magnetosphere, are subjected to highly energetic S ion irradiation which leads to a range of chemical activity on their surfaces. In this project, we have studied the effect of S ion irradiation on Aspartic acid for a range of energies at two different temperatures (100 K, 20 K), where the 100 K experiments are aimed to mimic the conditions of Europa. The irradiated residue was then analysed using an optical microscope, scanning electron microscope and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry.

Full scientific report published by kind permission of Rahul Kumar Kushwaha


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20-EPN2-081: Vis-NIR reflection spectroscopy of ammonium salts relevant for icy planetary surface characterisation

20-EPN-029: Vis-NIR reflection spectroscopy of ammonium salts relevant for icy planetary surface characterisation

Virtual visit by Maximiliano Fastelli, University of Perugia (Italy), to TA2.8 CSS (Cold Surfaces Spectroscopy) at IPAG (France).
Dates of visit: 13 October – 5 November 2021

Report Summary: During this TA visit under Europlanet 2024 RI 2nd call, reflectance VIS-NIR spectra of several ammonium salts were collected at the CSS facility (IPAG laboratory) in Grenoble, France. Different temperature steps were chosen to collect cryogenic data down to 90 K. Samples were characterised by low temperature crystalline phase transitions, and for these reasons, the measurement steps have been increased in the proximity of the expected temperature of mineral transformation. Cooling and heating experiments, using the same cooling/heating rate, were performed to bracket the phase transition and verify its reversibility. All the spectra were collected with three different grain size (150/125 – 125/80 – 80/32 μm) in the spectral range from 1 to 4.6 μm at low T. Typical absorption features due to overtones and combinations of NH4+ groups were identified in the spectral range investigated. Phase transitions, when detected, show an interesting behaviour with change in shape and position of some (sensitive) absorption bands which could be useful for the identification of these phases at non-ambient T. Moreover, the effect of low and different granulometry were observed.

It has been proposed that ammonium minerals are present in varying percentages in icy planetary bodies. The availability of these compounds is linked to the upwelling of ammonium salts (NH4+) with ice from the subsurface of possible oceans resulting from cryovolcanism phenomena. The identification of these minerals on the surface can give information about internal composition/dynamics and potential habitability of icy bodies.


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20-EPN2-023: Fluidisation of mass flows by metastable volatiles on extraterrestrial bodies

20-EPN2-023: Fluidisation of mass flows by metastable volatiles on extraterrestrial bodies

Visit by Lonneke Roelofs, Utrecht University (Netherlands) to TA2.20 Open University Mars Chamber (UK).
Dates of visit: 29 September – 6 October 2021
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Abstract: On planetary bodies unlike Earth, landforms may be created that look similar to those found on Earth but are actually produced by disparate and so-far unknown processes. Therefore, extra-terrestrial landforms assumed to be created by liquid water may in fact be formed by process-volatile interactions unknown to Earth. We propose an ambitious set of laboratory simulations to quantify the environmental and physical limits of sediment mass flows triggered by metastable CO2 under reduced atmospheric pressures. The laboratory simulations become possible by a unique synergy where an experimental setup for simulating mass flows developed at Utrecht University is placed in the Mars Chamber at The Open University, to for the first time generate mass flows supported by CO2 in different phases under a range of atmospheric pressures ranging from terrestrial to martian. Advanced measurement devices allow us to measure fluidisation upon triggering, flow dynamics downslope, and deposit morphologies under controlled conditions. This will provide a major step towards solving the long-lasting debate on the possible role of present-day volatiles in martian gully formation and its paleoclimatic implication. Our results will inform future mission-planning, and open up new understanding of slope processes on other planetary bodies.

Read report in the Europlanet Magazine.


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20-EPN-078: Abrasion test to understand aeolian grain surface evolution on Mars versus Earth – suggestions for ExoMars rover mission

20-EPN-078: Abrasion test to understand aeolian grain surface evolution on Mars versus Earth – suggestions for ExoMars rover mission

Virtual visit by Zsuzsanna Kapui, Eötvös Lorand University ̷ Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences (Hungary) to TA2.4 Planetary Environment Facilities (PEF), AU (Denmark).
Dates of visit: 2-6 August 2021

Surface microtextures on quartz grains provide good information of the transport medium (ice, river, wind) on Earth, as shape and surface micromorphological features strongly depend on them. A well-developed system has been already used for the quartz grains, but similar detailed studies of basaltic grains have not been conducted before, although this could be relevant for Mars. We aim to develop such a system for olivine grains (main basalt forming mineral). Between 2-6 August 2021, a quartz and an olivine sand grain group (both sized 1 – 2 millimetre) were analysed by wind transport at the AWTSII Wind tunnel facility in Aarhus, Denmark.

A special, self-built box (wind tunnel section with a relatively small cross section) was designed and produced in Hungary to allow periodic transport of the sand grains from one end to the other by a motor driven rotation system. The test started with difficulty because the sands movement did not start, a combination of factors meant that even at the highest fan rotation rate of the AWTSII facility active sand transport was not achieved. Finally, the solution became that the sand holder box in the wind tunnel was also tilted by 24 degrees. The quartz and olivine sands were transported by a mixture of gravitational avalanching and wind driven transport at around 1 bar pressure. Altogether two tests were performed during around four hours to see the attrition process related to grain shapes and surface microstructures. Microscope and webcam videos as well as wind flow data (pitot tube) were collected.

Currently, microscopic analysis with Morphology instrument is underway on the returned particles. The obtained results will be included in an article in progress and in my doctoral dissertation.

Report Summary:

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20-EPN-034: Calibration of the Al-in-olivine thermometer: Insight into the thermal history of type II chondrules

20-EPN-034: Calibration of the Al-in-olivine thermometer: Insight into the thermal history of type II chondrules

Visit by Thomas van Gerve and Kat Shepherd, KU Leuven (Belgium) to TA2.9 Ion Probe Facility (IPF), CRPG (France).
Dates of visit: 18-22 October 2021

Report Summary:

Chondrites are the most primitive agglomerates formed in the solar system. In this project, we want to develop a thermometer based on Al-in-olivine/spinel equilibrium to calculate the temperature of formation of chondrites. or this project, we have performed a large number of new low- to high-pressure (1 atm – 10 GPa) experiments relevant to chondrule formation at the KU Leuven.

Experiments were run at high temperature (1200-1800°C), under variable oxygen fugacity conditions (IW+1 to IW+5, IW = iron-wustite). From 18-22 October 2021, Thomas van Gerve and Kat Shepherd (KU Leuven) worked with the Cameca IMS 1270 E7 ion probe at CRPG, Nancy, under the supervision of Dr. Johan Villeneuve and M. Nordine Bouden. We have measured the following masses: 12C, 16O1H, 18O, 19F, 27Al, 30Si, 32S and 35Cl in olivine, glass and glass inclusions. During our analytical session, we measured ~ 150 points in olivine and glass in addition to the standards. Results are extremely reproducible and show a trend of slightly increasing Al content in olivine as a function of the Fo content (molar Mg/(Mg+Fe)) of olivine. Using our new SIMS results, we are in the process of developing a thermodynamically rooted model taking into account major components in spinel and olivine.

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20-EPN-016: Formation and fate of methyl formate isomers in space

20-EPN-016: Formation and fate of methyl formate isomers in space

Virtual visit by Dr Sergio Ioppolo (Queen Mary University of London, UK) to TA2.11 Atomki Ice Chamber for Astrophysics / Astrochemistry (ICA) (Hungary).
Dates of visit: 12 October 2020 – 31 March 2021

Report Summary: All isomers of C2H4O2, i.e. glycolaldehyde (HCOCH2OH), acetic acid (CH3COOH) and methyl formate (HCOOCH3), have been observed abundantly around the Galactic center, in dark clouds, and hot cores of the interstellar medium (ISM), as well as in some minor ice objects of the Solar System. However, their exact gas-grain formation and destruction pathway is still under debate. According to El-Abd et al. (2019), the observed column densities of methyl formate and acetic acid are well-correlated, and are likely simply tracking the relative total gas mass in star forming regions. Methyl formate and glycolaldehyde, however, display a stark dichotomy in their relative column densities. The latter findingsuggests that different formation/destruction routes are at play for the three isomers. To date, there is a strong laboratory evidence for an efficient production of glycolaldehyde, methyl formate, and acetic acid in the ISM (Gerakines et al. 1996; Bennett and Kaiser 2007; Modica et al. 2012).

During the TA 20-EPN-016 at the ion accelerator facility Atomki in Debrecen (Hungary), we have performed a systematic set of experiments using the novel ultrahigh vacuum ICA end station to investigate the formation and destruction pathways of C2H4O2 isomers and a variety of other interstellar complex organic molecules. The experimental campaign revealed to be successful as all the planned experiments were performed. Results aided the design of new potential key experiments that will be included in a future follow-up beamtime bid at the facility.


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20-EPN-050: 26-Aluminium-26-Magnesium systematics of chondrules and clasts in unequilibriated ordinary chondrites

20-EPN-050: 26-Aluminium-26-Magnesium systematics of chondrules and clasts in unequilibriated ordinary chondrites

In-person visit by Audrey Bouvier (Universität Bayreuth, Germany) to TA2.9 Ion probe facility (IPF), CRPG (France).
Dates of visit: 7-11 June 2021

Chondrules are a major component of chondritic meteorites whose time and mechanism of formation are still debated. Inconsistencies in formation ages of chondrules have been found between ages determined by the absolute Pb-Pb chronometer or using the relative 26Al-26Mg chronometer. While the Pb-Pb ages suggest that chondrules formed continuously for about 4 Ma from the time of CAI formation, the 26Al-26Mg data show evidence that chondrules did not form until about 1.8 Ma after CAIs. One possible explanation could be a heterogeneous distribution of 26Al in the solar nebula.

To evaluate this hypothesis, we used secondary ionization mass spectrometry (SIMS) to date chondrules and clasts from unequilibrated ordinary chondrites with the 26Al-26Mg chronometer. Three chondrules from ordinary chondrites show resolvable excesses in 26Mg due to the decay of 26Al and formed around 2 Ma after CAI formation, consistent with previous studies. Analysis of a large igneous inclusion from Paposo 004 supports a formation age within 1 Ma after CAI. The presence of a relict olivine chondrule in this inclusion provides contextual evidence that chondrule formation must have taken place prior to this time.


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EPSC2021: European facility prepares for haul of samples returning from planetary bodies

EPSC2021: European facility prepares for haul of samples returning from planetary bodies

The Institute of Planetary Research at DLR (German Aerospace Center) is starting construction of a new Sample Analysis Laboratory (SAL) dedicated to the study of rock and dust samples from planetary bodies such as asteroids and the Moon. The first phase will be operational by the end of 2022, on time to welcome samples collected by the Hayabusa2 mission, and fully ready by 2023. A status report will be presented today at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2021.

The 2020s promise a bounty of new missions returning planetary samples to Earth for analysis. Scientists can learn a huge amount about planetary bodies by sending remote sensing orbiters, and even more by ‘in situ’ exploration with landers and rovers. However, sensitive laboratory instruments on Earth can extract information far beyond the reach of current robotic technology, enabling researchers to determine the chemical, isotopic, mineralogical, structural and physical properties of extra-terrestrial material from just a single, tiny sample. 

‘The SAL facility will allow us to study samples from a macroscopic level down to the nanometric scale and help us answer key question about the formation and evolution of planetary bodies,’ said Dr Enrica Bonato from DLR. ‘Sample return provides us with “ground truth” about the visited body, verifying and validating conclusions that can be drawn by remote sensing. SAL will unlock some really exciting science, like looking for traces of water and organic matter, especially in the samples returned from asteroids. These are remnants of “failed” planets, so provide material that gives insights into the early stages of the Solar System and planetary evolution.’ 

The establishment of SAL has taken three years’ planning and the facility will see its first instruments delivered in summer 2022. The state-of-the art equipment will allow researchers to image the rock samples at very high magnification and resolution, as well as to determine the chemical and mineralogical composition in great detail. The laboratory will be classified as a “super-clean” facility, with a thousand times fewer particles per cubic metre permitted than in a standard clean room. Protective equipment will be worn by everyone entering in order to keep the environment as clean as possible, and SAL will be equipped with glove boxes for handling and preparation of the samples. All samples will be stored under dry nitrogen and transported between the instruments in dry nitrogen filled containers.

Together with other laboratory facilities within the Institute of Planetary Research (including the Planetary Spectroscopy Laboratory and Planetary Analogue Simulation Laboratory), the new SAL will be open to the scientific community for “transnational access” visits supported through the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure. 

The first studies at SAL will relate to two small, carbonaceous asteroids: Ryugu, samples from which were returned by JAXA’s Hayabusa2 mission in late 2020, and Bennu, from which NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission will deliver samples back to Earth in 2023.

‘Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx are in many ways sister missions, both in the kind of body being visited, and in the close cooperation of scientists and the sponsoring agencies. International collaboration is an important part of the sample return story, and becomes even more key when it comes to analysis,’ said Bonato. ‘We are also looking forward to receiving (and potentially curating) samples from Mars’s moon, Phobos, returned by JAXA’s Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission late in the decade. We also hope to receive samples at SAL from the Moon in the early part of the decade from China’s Chang’E 5 and 6 missions.’

A collaboration with the Natural History Museum and the Helmholtz Center Berlin in Berlin aims to establish an excellence centre for sample analysis in Berlin within the next 5-10 years. In the future, SAL could be expanded into a full curation facility.

‘Returned samples can be preserved for decades and used by future generations to answer questions we haven’t even thought of yet using laboratory instruments that haven’t even been imagined,’ added Jörn Helbert, Department Head of Planetary Laboratories at DLR.

Further Information

Bonato, E., Schwinger, S., Maturilli, A., and Helbert, J.: A New Facility for the Planetary Science Community at DLR: the Planetary Sample Analysis Laboratory (SAL)., Europlanet Science Congress 2021, online, 13–24 Sep 2021, EPSC2021-561, https://doi.org/10.5194/epsc2021-561, 2021.

Equipment to be installed in SAL:

  • Field Emission Gun Electron Microprobe Analyser (FEG-EMPA)
  • Field Emission Gun Scanning Electron Microscope (FEG-SEM) equipped with:
    • EDX detector for chemical mapping
    • STEM detector
  • X-ray Diffraction (XRD): 
    • Measurements of powders
    • μ-XRD for in situ analysis and mapping
    • Non-ambient stage for dynamic experiments
  • Polarized light microscope
  • Supporting equipment for sample preparation and handling

Information on Transnational Access offered by the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) can be found at: https://www.europlanet-society.org/europlanet-2024-ri/transnational-access-ta/

Europlanet 2024 RI has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149.

SAL follows the approach of a distributed European sample analysis and curation facility as discussed in the preliminary recommendations of EuroCares (European Curation of Astromaterials Returned from Exploration of Space) project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 640190. 

http://www.euro-cares.eu/

Images

An example of extra-terrestrial material that will be analysed in SAL: the little glass vial is containing about 45 mg of lunar soil (regolith) returned to Earth in 1976 by the robotic soviet mission to the Moon Luna 24. Credit: DLR
An example of extra-terrestrial material that will be analysed in SAL: the little glass vial is containing about 45 mg of lunar soil (regolith) returned to Earth in 1976 by the robotic soviet mission to the Moon Luna 24. Credit: DLR.

https://www.europlanet-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/8K2jO5dC.jpg

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission preparing to touch the surface of asteroid Bennu. Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona.

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/o-rex_approach.png

Science Contacts

Enrica Bonato
DLR, Berlin, Germany
sal@dlr.de

Jörn Helbert
Department Head of Planetary Laboratories
DLR, Berlin, Germany
Joern.Helbert@dlr.de

Media Contacts

EPSC2021 Press Office
epsc-press@europlanet-society.org

Notes for Editors

About the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 

The Europlanet Science Congress (https://www.epsc2021.eu/) formerly the European Planetary Science Congress, is the annual meeting place of the Europlanet Society. With a track record of 15 years, and regularly attracting around 1000 participants, EPSC is the largest planetary science meeting in Europe. It covers the entire range of planetary sciences with an extensive mix of talks, workshops and poster sessions, as well as providing a unique space for networking and exchanges of experiences.

Follow on Twitter via @europlanetmedia and using the hashtag #EPSC2021.

EPSC2021 is sponsored by Space: Science & Technology, a Science Partner Journal.

About Europlanet

Since 2005, Europlanet (www.europlanet-society.org) has provided Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science. 

The Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149 to provide access to state-of-the-art research facilities and a mechanism to coordinate Europe’s planetary science community. 

The Europlanet Society promotes the advancement of European planetary science and related fields for the benefit of the community and is open to individual and organisational members. The Europlanet Society is the parent organisation of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC).

About DLR

DLR is the Federal Republic of Germany’s research centre for aeronautics and space. We conduct research and development activities in the fields of aeronautics, space, energy, transport, security and digitalisation. The German Space Agency at DLR plans and implements the national space programme on behalf of the federal government. Two DLR project management agencies oversee funding programmes and support knowledge transfer.

Climate, mobility and technology are changing globally. DLR uses the expertise of its 55 research institutes and facilities to develop solutions to these challenges. Our 10,000 employees (as of February 2021) share a mission – to explore Earth and space and develop technologies for a sustainable future. In doing so, DLR contributes to strengthening Germany’s position as a prime location for research and industry.

20-EPN-005: Cosmic-ray-induced chemistry in pure ices

20-EPN-005: Cosmic-ray-induced chemistry in pure ices

Virtual visit by Alexei Ivlev, Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) (Germany) to TA2.11 Atomki Ice Chamber for Astrophysics / Astrochemistry (ICA) (Hungary).
Dates of visit: 23 February – 05 July 2021

Report Summary: The principal aim of the project was a dedicated study of generic effects induced in pure astrophysical ice analogs due to their bombardment by cosmic rays with energies E in the vicinity of the maximum of electronic stopping power. It is known that the energy of ejected electrons, which are produced in primary ionization events, has a significant dependence on E in this energy range. 

Thus, by selecting pairs of beam energies on both sides of the Bragg peak, such that the corresponding stopping-power values are equal, we were able to probe the effect of electron-impact excitations of ice molecules. We selected CO films as the best irradiation target, for which the biggest variety of radiolysis products was expected and the most detailed predictions of chemical models were available. 

We found that the first radiolysis products, detected at the astrophysically relevant values of ion fluence, are very different from predictions of chemical models. At the same time, the reaction kinetics shows no statistically significant difference between ion beams of same stopping power. This rules out the importance of electron-impact excitation in radiolysis chemistry of CO, and suggests that this process may generally be negligible compared to the chemistry driven by CR heating (determined by the stopping power value). On the other hand, by comparing the sputtering yields measured for beams of same stopping power, we discovered a significant asymmetry, with the yield at lower energies being up to a factor of two larger that at higher energies.


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20-EPN-014: Constraining CO2 uptake and release through chemical weathering pathways in a young, active orogen

20-EPN-014: Constraining CO2 uptake and release through chemical weathering pathways in a young, active orogen.

Visit by Erica Erlanger, GFZ Potsdam (Germany) to TA2.10 Stable, Rare Gas and Radiogenic Isotope Facility at CRPG (France).
Dates of visit: 14-21 June 2021

Report Summary: Young, active orogens often retain an intact sedimentary cover that is composed of marine sequences, which can host large volumes of carbonate and sulfuric acid-producing minerals, such as pyrite. Unlike silicate weathering, which is responsible for CO2 drawdown over geologic timescales, sulfuric acid weathering of carbonates has the potential to release COinto the atmosphere that was previously trapped in rock. The goals of this study are to calculate the overall carbon budget for the Central Apennines, a young, active orogen, and to understand the mechanisms for the release and drawdown of CO2 in this landscape. 
Compiling a representative assessment of chemical weathering fluxes requires an understanding of the possible variability between seasons. To this end, the objective of my TA visit to the CRPG in Nancy, France was to process riverine water samples collected in winter of 2021 for δ34SSO4, δ18OSO4, and  δ13CDIC. These samples are replicate analyses of samples from summer 2020, and provide a direct comparison of isotopic signatures between the hot and dry summer versus the wet and cool winter. Preliminary results show that δ34S signatures are similar between winter and summer for spring and groundwater samples, whereas river samples are more enriched in summer. Further analysis and results from other isotopic systems will help elucidate the major sources of variability that we observe in the river samples. 

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20-EPN-043: A Systematic Study of Sulfur Ion Radiolysis of Simple Oxide Ices

20-EPN-043: A Systematic Study of Sulfur Ion Radiolysis of Simple Oxide Ices.

Visit by Zuzana Kanuchova (virtual participation), Astronomical Institute od Slovak Academy of Sciences (Slovakia) and Duncan Mifsud (in-person participation), University of Kent (UK) to TA2.11 Atomki Ice Chamber for Astrophysics / Astrochemistry (ICA) (Hungary).
Dates of visit: 30 November – 4 December 2020 and 25-29 January 2021

Report Summary: We have implanted 290 keV S+ ions in a variety of simple oxide ices, including CO, CO2, H2O, N2O, O2, and CO:N2O at 20 K, as well as CO2 and H2O at 70 K. Our aim was to determine whether such implantations could result in the formation of sulfur-bearing product molecules, particularly SOwhich has been detected at the surfaces of several icy Solar System moons. 

The performed experiments suffered from initial setbacks in the form of unexpected and significant sputtering of the astrophysical ice analogues during irradiation. In order to mitigate this sputtering, we made use of two different experimental techinques; (i) via simultaneous deposition and irradiation of the ice analogue in cases where we knew gas phase chemistry to be negligible, and (ii) via creation of a very thick (~3-5 μm) ice and a slow rate of implantation. Once these initial problems were solved, we were able to successfully carry out implantations into the six ices mentioned above. 

Our work has indicated that although sulfur-bearing molecules (such as OCS and H2SO4 hydrates) may form as a result of such implantations, SO2 formation was not detected in most experiments, except at high fluence (~1016 ions/cm2) implantations in CO. Such results have important implications for the icy Galilean satellites of Jupiter, suggesting that the SO2 present there may be formed by endogenic processes at the lunar surfaces.


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20-EPN-032: Radioresistance of aromatic complex organic molecules

20-EPN-032: Radioresistance of aromatic complex organic molecules: nucleobases.

Virtual visit by Hermann Rothard, CIMAP (Caen, F) CNRS (France) to TA2.11 Atomki Ice Chamber for Astrophysics / Astrochemistry (ICA) (Hungary).
Dates of visit: 17 May – 02 July 2021

Report Summary: Complex molecules (including amino acids and nucleobases) can be formed in cold space environments conditions (e.g. dense molecular clouds, outer solar system) by e.g. UV irradiation and ion bombardment of ices containing simple molecules. Consequently, the radiation resistance of such complex molecules in order to determine their survival times in space should be investigated. We therefore studied the radiolysis and radio-resistance of the purine nucleobase (Adenine, two aromatic rings) in solid phase as a function of temperature (20-300 K) with H (0.8 MeV) and He (3.2 MeV) beams at ATOMKI. This first systematic study of the influence of the temperature revealed that Adenine is found to be significantly (of the order of 50%) more radio-resistant at high temperatures. At low temperatures T < 50K, Adenine is more radiosensitive (higher cross sections).

The results are preliminary and analysis is ongoing. Furthermore, we found that the destruction cross sections scales with the electronic stopping stopping following a power law with a stronger than linear dependence.


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20-EPN2-012: Discovering the origin of dissolved gases in CO2-rich mineral groundwaters from Aquae Spadanae

20-EPN2-012: Discovering the origin of dissolved gases in CO2-rich mineral groundwaters from Aquae Spadanae (Spa, eastern Belgium).

Visit by Agathe Defourny, University of Liège (Belgium), to TA2.10 Stable, Rare Gas and Radiogenic Isotope Facility at CRPG (France).
Dates of visit: 21 June – 02 July 2021

Report Summary: The visit at CRPG aimed at better assessing the origin of dissolved CO2 found in naturally sparkling groundwater springs from the east of Belgium. Previous analysis on δ13C had shown that the carbon could be either from mantellic or sedimentary (dissolved carbonates) origin, but a clear distinction between both could not be made. The goal of the stay at CRPG was then to focus on the analysis on other dissolved gases, in particular He and Ne. The combination of their isotopic signature, together with the isotopic composition of carbon is a powerful tool to highlight degassing from either crustal or mantel origin.

The results were really clear. The majority of the 4He/20Ne ratios stands between 50 and 500, indicating that more than 99% of the helium is not atmospheric and result from a mixture of crustal and mantellic gaz. Moreover, the ratio between CO2/3He (~109) versus δ13C (from -8 to -2 ‰) clearly shows that the dissolved COin theses springs is from mantellic origin. 

A few samples from non-carbogazeous springs from the same area were also collected and analysed and present a very different signature, with more negative δ13C values, and lower 4He/20Ne ratios. The measured value could be compared to different samples from the literature, particularly gas samples from the Eifel volcanic fields, at the border with Germany, showing very similar signatures. We can hence conclude with a high confidence level that the gases dissolved in the naturally sparkling spring from eastern Belgium come from the degassing of the Eifel mantellic plume, at a distance of about 100 km. 

20-EPN-029: VIS-NIR reflectance analysis of analogue mixture representative of young Haulani crater on Ceres

20-EPN-029: VIS-NIR reflectance analysis of analogue mixture representative of young Haulani crater on Ceres to assess the mineralogical composition of bright areas.

Visit by Fabrizio Dirri, IAPS-INAF (Italy), to TA2.8 CSS (Cold Surfaces Spectroscopy) at IPAG (France).
Dates of visit: 15-26 March 2021

Report Summary: In this project different bright areas of Haulani crater (e.g. Southern floor, i.e. ROI3 and North-east crater wall, i.e. ROI4) on Ceres have been studied by arranging different analogue mixtures and comparing them with Dawn VIR data. The end-members have been identified based on previous studies (Tosi et al. 2018, 2019) and the analogue mixtures have been produced with grain size 50-100µm for two bright crater regions. The two initial mixtures have been acquired in the VIS-NIR spectral range (0.35-4.5µm) at low temperature, i.e. from 200K to 300K similar to Haulani by using Cold Spectroscopy Facility (CSS) (IPAG, France). 

By comparing the spectral parameters (Band Center, Band Depth and FWHM of absorption bands at 2.7, 3.1, 3.4µm, spectral slope in the 1.2-1.9µm range and reflectance level at 2.1µm) with the obtained spectra of mixtures and VIR data, the best candidate to reproduce Haulani’ bright areas is the mixture A3-8. That mixture exhibits values for the 2.7BD (Antigorite, Illite), 3.1BD (NH4-Montmorillonite), 3.4 BD (NaCO3) and the 3.1 µm FWHM very close to Haulani ROI3 and ROI4. In order to better reproduce Haulani areas some improvements may be performed in the next future, e.g., by changing the dark component with a mixture of graphite plus magnetite to better reproduce the spectral slope of Haulani or by adding hydrous natrite in low percentage to the mixture, e.g. 2-8% to assess the role of this component found in Haulani bright areas and how is the contribution to 2.7 µm spectral band.

Read full report (published with kind permission of Dr Dirri).


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20-EPN-042: Reflectance spectroscopy of ammonium-bearing minerals

20-EPN-042: Reflectance spectroscopy of ammonium-bearing minerals – A tool to improve the knowledge of the surface of icy planetary bodies.

Visit by Maximiliano Fastelli, University of Perugia (Italy), to TA2.8 CSS (Cold Surfaces Spectroscopy) at IPAG (France).
Dates of visit: 09-27 November 2020

Report Summary: In the frame of the Europlanet 2024 1st TA call, reflectance VIS-NIR spectra were collected. Ten different temperature steps were chosen to collect cryogenic data: 270-245-220-180-160-140-120-100-90-270 up K.

For the samples characterized by a low temperature phase transitions (mascagnite (NH4)2SO4, sal-ammoniac NH4Cl, ammonium phosphate (NH4)H2PO4, tschermigite (NH4)Al(SO4)2·12(H2O) and ammonium nitrate NH4NO3), the measurement steps have been increased in the proximity of the expected temperature of mineral transformation. Cooling and heating experiments, using the same cooling/heating rate, were performed to break the phase transition T. In particular, mascagnite, sal-amoniac and ammonium phosphate monobasic samples showed clear and very interesting spectral bands variations during cooling, indicating that a phase transition occurred. Spectra were collected with three different grain size (150/125 – 125/80 – 80/32 μm) in the spectral range from 1 to 4.8 μm. 

The collected data will help on the interpretation of VIR remote spectra from Europa, Pluto’s moons, Enceladus and other icy celestial bodies surface where NH4 minerals have been supposed to occur. Moreover, the study of ammonium bearing minerals and their behavior at very low temperature might give information on how the phase transition affects the bands position and shapes inside the reflectance spectra. Overtones and combinations of NH4 bands are in the 1-3 μm range, whereas fundamental vibrational modes (ν1 and ν3) are present in the ~3 μm area.


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20-EPN2-088: High spectral resolution / low-temperature IR study of carbonates

20-EPN2-088: High spectral resolution / low-temperature IR study of carbonates.

Virtual visit by Simone De Angelis and Cristian Carli, IAPS-INAF(Italy), to TA2.8 CSS (Cold Surfaces Spectroscopy) at IPAG (France).
Dates of visit: 11 May – 04 June 2021

Report Summary: We planned to acquire reflectance spectra of anhydrous carbonates in the infrared range (3.2-4.6 μm), at high spectral sampling/resolution and at different cryogenic temperatures in the range 60-270K. 

The analysed materials were calcite, dolomite, siderite, natrite, malachite and magnesite; all the minerals were prepared and measured at fine powders, d<50 μm.  These measurements provide new spectral data in the IR that will be useful in the interpretation  of remote-sensing spectroscopic observations of Solar System rocky bodies such as Mars, Jovian satellites and minor bodies by current and future missions (Mars 2020, ExoMars-2022, JUICE, Europa Clipper, OSIRIS-REx). 


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