Europlanet Science Congress 2020
Virtual meeting
21 September – 9 October 2020
Europlanet Science Congress 2020
Virtual meeting
21 September – 9 October 2020

Oral presentations and abstracts


This session aims to highlight the new challenges and the missing bricks needed to understand the composition of primitive bodies through laboratory works and models.

The session focuses on the origin of inorganic and organic matter in different astrophysical environments and welcomes contributions on laboratory investigations and models of parent bodies of various meteorite groups, asteroids, comets and dwarf planets such as: a) experimental work related to the dust-regolith composition; b) observation and characterization of laboratory analogues; c) models of comet formation, and interior structure of asteroids with implications for parent body processes and evolution of small bodies in our solar system.

The session will also focus on experimental, theoretical and observational topics specifically aimed to the study organic matter in planetary bodies, including a) detection and evolution of organic compounds in the interstellar medium; b) characterization and evolution of the organic matter in the primitive bodies (meteorites, comets, IDPs); c) observation and distribution of the organic matter in the protosolar disk and planetary surfaces.

Co-organized by EXO
Convener: Gabriele Arnold | Co-conveners: Claudio Codella, John Robert Brucato, Eric Quirico, Bastian Gundlach

Session assets

Session summary

Chairperson: Gabriele Arnold
Rosario Brunetto, Alice Aléon-Toppani, Zélia Dionnet, Stefano Rubino, Yann Arribard, Donia Baklouti, Ferenc Borondics, Zahia Djouadi, Cateline Lantz, Megumi Matsumoto, Moe Matsuoka, Tomoki Nakamura, Kana Amano, Miki Takahashi, David Troadec, and Akira Tsuchiyama

1. Introduction

The Hayabusa2/JAXA spacecraft has orbited and studied near-Earth object Ryugu [1]. Two sample collections have been performed and the spacecraft is currently on its way back to the Earth for an expected return in late 2020. A preliminary examination phase will follow [2], expected to elucidate the formation and evolution of Ryugu. Considering the limited amount of material that will be retrieved, a multi-analytical sequence is needed to maximize the scientific outcome and minimize sample loss. Among the possible laboratory techniques, IR spectroscopy is important in being totally non-destructive and comparable to remote sensing observations of small bodies [3]. Thanks to IR imaging micro-spectroscopy, it is possible to detect and study the spatial distribution of molecular bonds associated to minerals, water and organic compounds, and their co-localization [4]. We consider IR three dimensional (3D) micro-tomography (IR-CT) an excellent starting point in a multi-analytical sequence to be applied on returned samples [5]. Here we report IR hyperspectral measurements of carbonaceous chondrites as a rehearsal of IR-CT and IR hyperspectral imaging that will be part of the multi-analytical sequence of the “MIN-PET CG” Hayabusa2 team (mineralogy and petrology of coarse grains) led by T. Nakamura. 

2. Methods

We performed IR measurements in reflectance on bulk fragments of selected meteorites, and both in reflectance and transmittance on several isolated grains (sizing 20-50 µm) extracted from carbonaceous chondrites. We also analyzed individual grains of the Murchison CM meteorite prepared at Tohoku University (Japan) from three bulk samples: (1) unheated, (2) heated at 400°C, and (3) heated at 600°C [6]. The laboratory-controlled heating was applied to simulate potential heating undergone by Ryugu surface materials, as suggested by some Hayabusa2 observations [7]. Some of these Murchison grains were mounted on tungsten needles by means of a platinum welding performed in IEMN-Lille (France) with a focused ion beam microscope. Other grains were prepared at Tohoku University, mounted on carbon fibers using epoxy (Fig. 1). 

We analyzed the samples using an IR hyperspectral imaging and micro-tomography setup installed at the SMIS beamline of the SOLEIL synchrotron (France). This setup has already been used for analyzing Hayabusa samples from asteroid Itokawa [8]. FTIR data were collected using an Agilent Cary 670/620 microspectrometer. In transmission mode we used a X25 objective coupled with high magnification optics (providing an additional X2.5 magnification) placed in front of a 128x128 pixels FPA detector, to obtain a projected pixel size of ~0.66 µm on the focal plane, and a field of view of ~84 µm. IR-CT is performed in transmission mode using the method described by Dionnet et al. [8]. In reflection mode we used a X15 objective, with a projected pixel size of ~5.5 µm on the focal plane, and a field of view of ~700 µm (Fig. 1). In both cases we collected hyperspectral data: for each pixel we obtained an IR spectrum in the 850-3950 cm-1 spectral range. The spatial resolution was diffractionlimited for the whole investigated spectral range.

3. Results

Infrared spectra show the presence of bending and stretching absorption bands of chemical bonds (C-H, OH, Si-O, C=O, etc.) of different functional groups, as expected from literature IR spectra of Murchison and other chondrites [9,10]. The relative intensities of these bands are found to vary among different grains, and their 3D spatial distribution is heterogeneous within individual grains (see Fig. 1). Noticeable differences are found between the IR spectra of unheated and heated Murchison samples, with a general trend of increasing the anhydrous to hydrated silicate content with increasing temperature, and reducing the organic content.

Fig. 1. A typical IR reflectance hyperspectral map of an unheated Murchison sample mounted on a carbon needle (top left, microscope images in bright and dark field), with the detection of hydrated (bottom left) and anhydrous (bottom right) areas. The epoxy contribution can be clearly separated (top right). 

4. Summary and Conclusions

IR data provide a first quick look at the composition, abundance and 3D distribution of mineral phases and carbonaceous materials at the scale of a few micrometers. Once regions of interest are identified by IR measurements, thin sliced sections of the samples can be analyzed by more destructive techniques to retrieve the structure and the elemental and isotopic composition of the carbonaceous component and its mineral host, down to the nanometer scale [11]. In addition, the IR data are useful in the comparison with remote sensing observations of asteroid surfaces [7,12]. This top-down sequence will help us building a bridge between the remote sensing and in situ observations of Ryugu at macroscopic scale and the chemical and physical processes operating at the nanoscale. 


The micro-spectroscopy measurements were supported by grants from Region Ile-de-France (DIM-ACAV) and SOLEIL. This work has been funded by the CNES (France) and by the ANR project CLASSY (Grant ANR-17-CE31-0004-02) of the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche. This work was partly supported by the French RENATECH network. 


[1] Watanabe S. et al. (2019) Science 364, 268-272. [2] Tachibana S. et al. (2018) AGU Fall Meeting, abstract #P33C-3846. [3] Brunetto R. et al. (2011) Icarus 212, 896–910. [4] Dionnet Z. et al. (2018) Meteoritics & Planet. Sci. 53, 2608-2623. [5] Dionnet Z. et al. (2018) Microscopy and Microanalysis 24, 2100-2101. [6] Mogi K. et al. (2017) 80th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society, Abstract #6225. [7] Kitazato K. et al. (2019) Science 364, 272-275. [8] Dionnet Z. et al. (2020) Meteoritics & Planet. Sci., in press. [9] Lantz C. et al. (2015) A&A 577, A41. [10] Beck P. et al. (2014) Icarus 229, 263-277. [11] Aléon-Toppani A. et al. (2020) Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 2682. [12] Hamilton V. et al. (2019) Nat. Astron. 3, 332–340.

How to cite: Brunetto, R., Aléon-Toppani, A., Dionnet, Z., Rubino, S., Arribard, Y., Baklouti, D., Borondics, F., Djouadi, Z., Lantz, C., Matsumoto, M., Matsuoka, M., Nakamura, T., Amano, K., Takahashi, M., Troadec, D., and Tsuchiyama, A.: Hyperspectral imaging of carbonaceous chondrites in view of the Hayabusa2 sample return, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-121,, 2020.

Romain Maupin, Zahia Djouadi, Rosario Brunetto, Cateline Lantz, Alice Aléon-Toppani, and Pierre Vernazza

Introduction: Meteorites seem to come from a small number of primary parent bodies [1]. B-, C-, Cb-, Cg-, P- and D-types, representing not less than 66% of the mass of the main belt have no analogues clearly identified in the meteorite collections [2]. However, meteorites are not the only cosmomaterials found on Earth since no less than 30 000 tons of interplanetary dust particles (IDPs) enter the Earth’s atmosphere each year [3]. IDPs originate from different parent bodies throughout the solar system [4, 5, 6]. The link between IDPs and asteroids can be investigated thanks to Vis-NIR spectroscopy commonly used for the classification of asteroids (0.4 - 2.5 µm). The reflectance measurements in the visible range (0.4 - 0.8 μm) performed on IDPs in the 90s [7] and the simulated visible near infrared (Vis-NIR) spectra of IDPs with comparison of mid infrared (Mid-IR) spectra [2] have shown that IDPs may be good analogues to some asteroids and in particular to the classes not sampled by meteorites. But Vis-NIR reflectance measurements of IDPs is challenging and we must understand how the measurement on an isolated micro-metric particle can be affected by physical parameters of the sample such as size, composition, and roughness.

We report here the requirements, the abilities as well as the limitations of the technique and the results obtained on 15 IDPs particles ranging 7-31 µm in size in the Vis-NIR range (0.45 - 1.0 µm).

Experiments: Our setup, installed in a clean room, consists of a Vis-NIR spectrometer (Maya2000 Pro from Ocean Optics) coupled to a macroscope (Leica Z16 APO). A Vis-NIR optical fiber (100 or 50 μm in diameter) is used to collect the light diffused by the sample which is unilaterally illuminated by a halogen source through a 1000 μm diameter fiber (phase angle of ~ 45°). By changing the magnification and/or the diameter of the collection fiber it is possible to adapt the collection spot to the grain size down to 7 μm size.

Results and discussion: To obtain a reliable reflectance spectrum of a micro-metric grain with this setup, we show that it is necessary to average spectra taken at different azimuth angles, by rotating the particle several times in the observation plane with respect to the incident light.

Based on the study of spectral slopes we found that for particles with sizes below ~ 17 µm the spectral slope increases linearly with decreasing particle sizes. This behavior is due to a bias encountered in the reflectance measurement in this size range, inducing thus a loss of the chemical information. For particle sizes larger than ∼ 17 µm the spectral slopes seem randomly distributed between ∼ -0.3 and 0.4 µm−1, and the spectra must therefore carry chemical information of the particles.

We found that the visible reflectance levels of the IDPs show a multimodal distribution. There is a lack of IDPs with reflectance level ~ 5 and ~ 8%. In addition, the majority of IDPs have rather low reflectance levels (< 10%). Some particles have reflectance levels that may be influenced by the presence of magnetite, which is sometimes found in extraterrestrial materials and could form upon atmospheric entry.

Among the studied particles we identified an IDP (L2079C18) exhibiting a feature at 0.66 µm which is similar to the one observed by remote sensing at the surface of hydrated asteroids. This is the first detection of a hydration band in the reflectance spectrum of an IDP which could indicate a possible link between hydrated IDPs with hydrated asteroid surfaces.

Acknowledgments: We are grateful to the CAPTEM NASA for providing the IDPs. This work is supported by the Programme National de Planétologie (PNP) of CNRS/INSU, co-funded by CNES. The authors also thank the ANR RAHIIA SSOM and the P2IO LabEx (ANR-10-LABX0038) in the framework Investissements d’Avenir (ANR11-IDEX-0003-01) for their supports. We thank O. Mivumbi and Y. Longval for their help and technical support for the development of the device.


References: [1] R. Greenwood et al. (2020) Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 277, 377-406. [2] P. Vernazza et al. (2015) The Astrophysical Journal 806 :204. [3] Love and Brownlee. (1993) Science, 262, 550-553. [4] Dermott et al. (1994) Nature, 369, 719-723. [5] Liou et al. (1996) Icarus, 124, 429-440. [6] Brunetto et al. (2011) Icarus, 212, 896-910. [6] Bradley, J. P. (2003) Treatise on Geochemistry, 1, 689. [7] Bradley, et al. (1996) Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 31, 394-402.


How to cite: Maupin, R., Djouadi, Z., Brunetto, R., Lantz, C., Aléon-Toppani, A., and Vernazza, P.: VIS-NIR DIFFUSE REFLECTANCE MICRO-SPECTROSCOPIC ANALYSIS OF IDPs, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-130,, 2020.

Giovanni Poggiali, John Robert Brucato, Elisabetta Dotto, Simone Ieva, Maria Antonietta Barucci, Maurizio Pajola, Teresa Fornaro, Maria Angela Corazzi, Andrea Meneghin, and Daniele Paglialunga

Interpretation of spectroscopic data from remote sensing strongly depends on the spectroscopic properties, particle size and temperature of materials on the observed surface. Spectral indices of silicates, carbonates, sulfates, oxides and chemicals available on public database are commonly obtained at room temperature and pressure. Whether temperature can affect spectral properties of minerals such as the peak position, band area and shape, was advanced decades ago (Singer & Roush, 1985), but a systematic laboratory study on such effects is still missing. Hitherto, few studies were performed analyzing the effects of space environment, such as low pressure and temperature, on spectroscopic features of minerals, mostly focusing on near infrared spectral region (Moroz, et al. 2000; Hinrichs & Lucey 2002; De Angelis, et al. 2019). This is especially lacking in the mid-infrared region, where laboratory data are almost completely absent. Thus, it is pivotal to acquire spectra in vacuum at various temperatures and varying the particle sizes, for better simulating space environmental conditions.

Our apparatus at INAF-Astrophysical Observatory of Arcetri allows reflectance measurements in an extended spectral range from VIS to far IR and at temperatures ranging from 64 K to 500 K. We present here a detailed analysis on temperature-dependent variation on mineral and carbonaceous chondrite samples in the spectral range 1500-400 cm-1 (6.6-25 µm in wavelength). Mineral phases and meteorites analyzed are: pyroxene, olivine, serpentine, Tagish Lake (CI2-ungruped), Aguas Zarcas (CM2) and Orgueil (CI1). Samples are prepared with particle sizes <20 μm, <200 μm, and 200-500 μm. Our results show that temperature induces spectral features modifications such as peak position shifts, band area and peak intensity changes (Fig 1). Modifications are reversible with temperature and the trend of variation is related to the sample composition and hydration level. Moreover, magnitude of temperature-dependent spectroscopic changes is strongly linked with grain size and composition, hence making this type of analysis pivotal for a correct interpretation of data collected by space telescopes and orbital spacecrafts.


Figure 1 Meteorite spectra at different temperature normalized at 1500 cm-1 in wavenumber range between 1500 cm-1 and 400 cm-1. Tagish Lake (top left panel), Orgueil (top right panel) and Aguas Zarcas (bottom left panel). All samples are sieved in grain size 200-500 µm. Spectra were acquired at different temperature step from 65 K (light blue) to 350 K (red). Position of Christiansen features (CF) and Reststrahlen bands (RB) are highlighted.


De Angelis, S., et al. 2019. Icarus, 317, 388-411
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How to cite: Poggiali, G., Brucato, J. R., Dotto, E., Ieva, S., Barucci, M. A., Pajola, M., Fornaro, T., Corazzi, M. A., Meneghin, A., and Paglialunga, D.: Temperature dependent mid-infrared (5-25 μm) reflectance spectroscopy of carbonaceous meteorites and minerals: implication for remote sensing in Solar System exploration., Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-568,, 2020.

Maria Angela Corazzi, John Robert Brucato, Giovanni Poggiali, Davide Fedele, and Teresa Fornaro

Through laboratory analyses it is possible to study the physical and chemical processes involving prebiotic molecules, the building blocks of life. Today thanks to the advent of new generation of (sub-) millimeter and centimeter interferometers (ALMA, NOEMA, ngVLA), an increasing number of interstellar complex organic molecules (iCOMs) is observed in star forming regions, pre-stellar dense cores, hot corinos, jets and outflow ardound protostars [1, 2, 3]. Hot corinos are inner compact (<100 au) and hot (>100 K) regions of some protostars [4].  In these high-temperature regions, thermal desorption is the physical process responsible for the sublimation of frozen mantles into the gas phase and so for the presence of a rich chemistry [5] in the gas phase. On the other hand, iCOMs are difficult to observe in protoplanetary disks, where, for a solar-type star, the region where the temperature reaches the values for the desorption and release into the gaseous phase of water and iCOMs (water snow line) is too close to the star (≤5 au). This region is difficult to solve but a new perspective is provided by objects such as the FU Ori systems in which the young central star undergoes a sudden increase in brightness which leads to heating of the disk and quick expansion of the snow lines to large radii. This phenomenon has been observed in the protoplanetary disk around the protostar V883 Ori [6]. Thanks to the increase in temperature of the disk and the consequent thermal desorption of the molecules, five iCOMs were recently detected: methanol, acetone, acetonitrile, acetaldehyde, and methyl formate [7]. Moreover, outbursting young stars are good new targets for looking for organic complex molecules that thermally desorb from icy mantles. The interpretation of observations can benefit from laboratory activities, where it is possible to simulate the thermal desorption process and UV irradiation of complex molecules under simulated space conditions. Furthermore, laboratory studies on thermal desorption are fundamental to constrain parameters such as the thermal desorption temperature of a given molecule and its fragments, and the binding energies involved.


Here we reported the results that we have recently published about temperature-programmed desorption (TPD) analysis of pure formamide (HCONH2) ice and in the presence of TiO2 dust, before and after UV irradiation. We found that pure formamide desorbed at 220 K in high vacuum regime and after UV irradiation it fragmented mainly into NH2, HCO and CH2NO. These fragments are more volatile and desorbed before formamide (~180 K) at the same desorption temperature of water. The presence of water was due to residual deposition in the high vacuum chamber. It is reasonable to think, therefore, that the sublimation of water ice was responsible for releasing more volatile species. The same phenomenon probably occurs in the space where water is the most abundant molecule. Going forward with our investigation, we reproduced the condensation, irradiation, and desorption experiments with a substrate of TiO2 dust. In presence of grains, we observed evidence for a change in desorption temperature. Formamide desorption from TiO2 dust occurred at higher temperatures, that is, around 30 K above the temperature at which desorption takes place for pure formamide. A higher desorption temperature is direct evidence of the interactions described by the Van der Waals forces that were occurring between the molecule and the grains. The molecule interacts and diffuses into the grains and this is confirmed by the values of the binding energy that we found. When formamide desorbed directly from the cold finger of the cryostat (copper chromate surface), the binding energy found was (5.9 ± 0.3)·103 K; while when it desorbed from TiO2 dust, the binding energy found was (1.35 ± 0.08)·104 K, a value two times higher [8]. Therefore, in the chemical models of sublimation, it is essential to take into account physisorption of iCOMs on grain surfaces and their diffusion to correctly describe the desorption process, that is, to constrain desorption temperatures and binding energies [8]. Furthermore, our experiments show something more than the desorption temperature and the binding energy of formamide.  The molecular fragments observed in laboratory (NH2, HCO and CH2NO) can be used to indirectly measure the presence of formamide through detection of relative abundance (e.g., [NH2]/[HCO]∼4).

We reported also preliminary results on laboratory studies about thermal desorption of ice mixtures of acetaldehyde and acetonitrile from crystalline olivine grains.

These studies offer support to observational data and improve our understanding of the role of the grain surface in enriching the chemistry in space.



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How to cite: Corazzi, M. A., Brucato, J. R., Poggiali, G., Fedele, D., and Fornaro, T.: Laboratory studies on Temperature-Programmed Desorption analyzes of prebiotic molecules in space, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-455,, 2020.

Riccardo Giovanni Urso, Véronique Vuitton, Grégoire Danger, Louis d'Hendecourt, Zahia Djouadi, Laurene Flandinet, Obadias Mivumbi, François-Régis Orthous-Daunay, Alexander Ruf, Vassilissa Vinogradoff, Cédric Wolters, and Rosario Brunetto

Cosmic rays, solar wind and solar energetic particles induce changes in the physical structure and chemical composition of frozen volatiles on the surface solar system outer objects, such as satellites of giant planets, centaurs and Kuiper-belt objects (e.g., Johnson 1990, Strazzulla et al. 2003, Urso et al. 2020). Such energetic particles can be responsible for the formation of C-rich refractory materials that determine the appearance of red slopes in the visible and near-infrared spectra of small bodies (e.g., Brunetto et al. 2006, Brown et al. 2011).

Laboratory experiments performed to simulate the irradiation of frozen surfaces in space show that energetic ions or electrons (keV-MeV) determine the formation of new species, not present in the original samples (e.g., Rothard et al. 2017). The subsequent warm-up of processed mixtures causes both the sublimation of volatile compounds and an increase in the molecular diffusion and reactivity. As a consequence, the chemical complexity increases and organic refractory residues are formed. 

Residues are thought to be representative of the refractory materials on the surface of outer bodies as well as of cometary materials and a possible precursor of the soluble organic matter (SOM) found in meteorites (e.g., Strazzulla & Johnson 1991, Munoz-Caro & Schutte 2003, Brunetto et al. 2006, Danger et al. 2013, Baratta et al 2015, Urso et al. 2017, Poston et al. 2018}.

We present recent laboratory experiments to produce and characterize organic refractory residues produced after ion irradiation of frozen volatiles. Water, methanol and ammonia mixtures in ratios 1:1:1 and 3:1:1 are deposited at 15 K and exposed to 40 keV H+ by means of the INGMAR setup (Urso et al. 2020). After irradiation, mixtures are warmed up with a constant heating rate and organic refractory residues are formed at 300 K. Throughout the experiment, we monitor the sample evolution by means of in-situ infrared transmission spectroscopy (4000-700 cm-1, 2.5-13.3 µm).

After warmup, organic refractory residues are recovered from the irradiation chamber and are further characterized through ex-situ Very High Resolution Mass Spectrometry. The combination of both techniques allows to shed light on the composition of irradiated frozen volatiles and of residues. We also search for specific molecules by means of tandem Mass Spectrometry/High Resolution Mass Spectrometry. Furthermore, we compare the chemical composition of our samples with that of organic refractory residues produced after UV photolysis of volatile mixtures.

Our results give information on the effects induced by different experimental parameters (dose, mixture ratio) on the composition of organic refractory materials. In particular, we investigate the effects of increasing irradiation dose in the elemental abundance and in the Double Bond Equivalent (DBE) of residues. We also give the timescales necessary to observe in solar system outer objects the effects revealed in laboratory experiments, and we discuss the role of the various sources of processing (cosmic rays, solar wind, solar energetic particles) in determining changes in the chemical composition of frozen surfaces in space.

Our work supports the interpretation of space mission data and astronomical observations of comets and solar system outer objects as well as of star-forming regions in the Interstellar medium, where cosmic rays bombard icy grain mantles and thus play a role in the synthesis of complex organic molecules in the early stage of star-formation.


This work is supported by the CNES-France. INGMAR (IAS-CSNSM, Orsay) is funded by the French Programme National de Planétologie (PNP), Faculté des Sciences d'Orsay, Université Paris-Sud (Attractivité 2012), French National Research Agency ANR (contract ANR-11-BS56-0026, OGRESSE), P2IO LabEx (ANR-10-LABX-0038) in the framework Investissements d'Avenir (ANR-11-IDEX-0003-01). We thank the support from RAHIIA SSOM (ANR-16-CE29-0015). R.G.U. thanks the CNES postdoctoral program.


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How to cite: Urso, R. G., Vuitton, V., Danger, G., d'Hendecourt, L., Djouadi, Z., Flandinet, L., Mivumbi, O., Orthous-Daunay, F.-R., Ruf, A., Vinogradoff, V., Wolters, C., and Brunetto, R.: The composition of outer solar system icy surfaces: hints from the analysis of laboratory analogues, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-135,, 2020.

Stefano Spadaccia, Holly Capelo, Antoine Pommerol, and Nicolas Thomas

Planet formation in protoplanetary discs is a process whereby the primitive solids that are initially of microscopic scale, must be converted into larger objects such as pebbles (mm-cm size), planetesimals, and eventually planets. It has been acknowledged that drifting pebbles play an important role in the core accretion scenario by triggering streaming instabilities or by aiding the growth of planetary cores. Moreover, ice lines of volatile species such as water seem to be promising sites for this process. At the water ice line, the higher surface energy of ice promotes coagulation and the sublimated vapor can diffuse outward in the disk and deposit onto pebbles, allowing fast growth [1][2]. These processes can then trigger streaming instabilities or core formation through gravitational collapse of small bodies. However, very little is known about the evolution of these objects’ cohesive properties and volatile content as they drift and encounter various conditions throughout the disc. Investigating the morphology, chemistry, and physical processes of pebbles close to the ice line is essential to have an insight into the overall evolution of small bodies in the early phases of protoplanetary discs. We are interested in studying the different outcomes of the sublimation of an icy pebble, to understand how its optical properties are changing over time and if the dust aggregates survive to the sublimation process. In the Laboratory for Outflow Studies of Sublimating Materials (LOSSy) at the University of Bern [3], we are researching optical and physical properties of ice-dust mixtures with relevance for protoplanetary discs and planet formation, with focus on the role of ice sublimation in changing these properties.

Two new methods for the preparation of ice-dust aggregate with mm-size have been developed. The first method (Pebble-A) uses an inclined superhydrophobic surface with dust on it; a mm-size droplet of distilled water rolls on it and collects the dust, then it falls into liquid nitrogen. The second method (Pebble-B) exploits the capillary forces between water and solid grains: a droplet impinges a dust bed and penetrates it forming a wet aggregate, which is then sunk in liquid nitrogen. PAs have generally ~50%wt of ice and the dust is mainly accumulated close to the surface of the pebble, while the core has more ice. PBs have lower amounts of ice (~15%wt) and the dust grains are connected through ice films. Different types of dust with relevance for protoplanetary discs are used, such as olivine, pyroxene, corundum, serpentine, CI and CR asteroids simulants [4]. Humic acid (HA) is used as an organic compound, simulating complex organics that can be found on comets.

The SCITEAS-2 (Simulation Chamber for Imaging the Temporal Evolution of Analogue Samples version 2.0) vacuum chamber provides a low-pressure and low-temperature environment for the sublimation of icy samples, and a hyperspectral measurement of the sample over time in the VIS and NIR [5]. The pressure inside the chamber is kept low (around 10-6 mbar) through a turbomolecular vacuum pump, and a He-cryocooler guarantees a temperature at the base of the sample of  ~120 K. A fast sublimation of the icy pebbles is achieved by letting the temperature evolve freely up to room temperature, while the vacuum pump pumps out the vapor formed in the chamber. The overall process lasts around 20 hours.

Ice sublimation, gravity, grain size distribution of the dust, type of dust, ice content, and presence of organics concur all together to determine the sublimation outcome of the icy pebble. Is it going to disrupt to dust or will it maintain its shape? We list here some interesting preliminary observations:

    - ice sublimation is detectable in the VIS and NIR reflectance spectra of the pebbles. Although the disappearance of the ice absorption bands provides information on ice content at the surface of the pebble only, the core could still contain ice;
    - PAs seem to disrupt more easily with respect to PBs made of the same dust, due to the higher amount of ice that is embedded in the core, which pushes the particles away when sublimating;
    - in PAs, the presence of HA mixed with mineral powders prevents disruption, which is observed in the absence of HA (Fig.1);
    - in PBs made of pyroxene, different grain sizes result in different outcomes: PBs made of dust with grain sizes bigger than 100 microns disrupt, while smaller grain sizes are more efficient in maintaining the pebble intact, and are not affected by sublimation. Furthermore, a PB made of coarse pyroxene dust (100-300 microns) mixed with fine dust (<50 microns) can partially resist disruption, highlighting that fine dust plays a key role in cementing bigger dust particles.

A campaign of experiments is ongoing on PAs and PBs. The aim is to investigate the different physical processes that concur in the final sublimation outcome, for different dust properties. More experiments will study:

    - The grain size distribution effects on the disruption. Different minerals are expected to have different size distributions that will avoid disruption during sublimation.
    - The role of different organics in binding with mineral dust.
    - The interaction of a gas stream at low pressure with a sublimated PB or PA, to understand their shear strength and determine their stokes number.


The team from the University of Bern is supported by the Swiss National National Science Foundation and through the NCCR PlanetS.


[1] Musiolik, G., & Wurm, G. (2019) The Astrophysical Journal, 873(1), 58.
[2] Ros, K., Johansen, A., Riipinen, I., & Schlesinger, D. (2019) Astronomy & Astrophysics, 629, A65.
[3] Pommerol, A., Jost, B., Poch, O., Yoldi, Z., Brouet, Y., Gracia-Berná, A., ... & Blum, J. (2019) Space science reviews, 215(5), 37.
[4] Britt, D. T., Cannon, K. M., Donaldson Hanna, K., Hogancamp, J., Poch, O., Beck, P., ... & Metzger, P. T. (2019) Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 54(9), 2067-2082.
[5] Pommerol, A., Jost, B., Poch, O., El-Maarry, M. R., Vuitel, B., & Thomas, N. (2015) Planetary and space science, 109, 106-122.


How to cite: Spadaccia, S., Capelo, H., Pommerol, A., and Thomas, N.: Protoplanetary discs in the laboratory: the fate of icy pebbles undergoing sublimation, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-198,, 2020.

Maximiliano Fastelli, Paola Comodi, Riccardo Piergallini, Alessandro Maturilli, Tonci Balic-Zunic, and Azzurra Zucchini

Recent discoveries demonstrated that the surface of Mars, Ceres and other celestial bodies like asteroids and comets are characterized by the presence of ammonium bearing minerals (Dalle Ore et al., 2018; Berg et al., 2016, Poch et al., 2020). Data collected by New Horizon LORRI and Ralph emphasized the presence of ammonia on Charon, one of the Pluto’s satellites, that is, ammonium chloride, ammonium nitrate and ammonium carbonate have been claimed as the best candidates for its composition (Cook et al., 2018). Moreover, the analysis of the absorption features of Mars spectra at ~1.07, 1.31 and 1.57 μm can be related to ammonium bearing minerals (Sefton-Nash et al., 2012) as well as the presence of oceans underneath the Europa’s crust (Zimmer et al., 2000) suggests a hypothetical composition of water + ammonia, as anti-freezing water element (Sphon and Schubert, 2003). In this scenario, cryovolcanism activity (Jia et al., 2018) can give rise to an interaction between water ammonia and the surface.

This study focuses on, by taking into account sulfates, phosphates, aluminates and borates, understanding how different anionic groups and the different amount of water, affect the ammonium spectra features. Ammonium bearing minerals are of significant interest as hydrogen bonds can affect the NH4+ absorption features and the configuration of the hydrogen bonds, N-H….X, in ammonium salts (e.g. NH4Cl, NH4Br), can be quite different (Harlov et al., 2001).

All this, with a careful analysis of remote data compared with the analyses of more accurate laboratory data, should allow a better remote characterization of planetary bodies.

In this work, the reflectance spectra of some ammoniated hydrous and anhydrous salts, namely sal-ammoniac NH4Cl, larderellite NH4B5O7(OH)2·H2O, mascagnite (NH4)SO4, struvite (NH4)MgPO4·6H2O and tschermigite (NH4)Al(SO4)2·12H2O, were collected at room temperature and at 193K. These samples were selected to improve the NH4-bearing mineral reflectance spectra database and to extend the investigated spectral range with respect to the literature data: e.g. Berg et al., 2016.

We analyzed natural ammonium bearing minerals using reflectance spectroscopy in the long-wave ultraviolet (UV), visible, near-infrared (NIR), and mid-infrared (MIR) regions (~1 – 16 μm) at 298 and 198 K. In addition, thermogravimetric analysis (TG) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) were made to evaluate the amount of water/ammonium loss and the potential phase transitions occurring in the investigated temperature range. X-ray diffraction analyses were performed on the samples before and after thermal treatments to study the evolution of their crystal structure.

Reflectance spectra of ammoniated minerals show absorption features at 1.3, 1.6, 2.06, 2.14, 3, 3.23, 5.8 and 7.27 μm, related to ammonium group. The 2ν3 at ~1.56 μm and the ν34 at ~2.13 μm, are the most affected modes by crystal structure type, since their position is strictly related to hydrogen bonds. The reflectance spectra of water-rich samples (struvite (NH4)MgPO4·6(H2O) and tschermigite (NH4)Al(SO4)2·12(H2O)) show only fundamental absorption features in the area from 2 to 2.8 μm and a strong water feature at 3 μm. An endothermic peak at 192° C was detected in the DSC diagram of sal-ammoniac sample, due to the phase transition from CsCl structure type to NaCl type.

Important was the application of a new proprietary tool (areal mixing model RE-Mix) created to fit remote sensing data coming from planetary bodies with a mixing of the reflectance spectra of single minerals. The RE-Mix tool is based on Hapke model, the most common scattering theory used to calculate synthetic reflectance spectra (Hapke, 1981, 2012). We can assume that the surfaces of planetary bodies contain mixtures of different minerals. In the interpretation of the remote sensing data, it is therefore necessary to assume a mixture of spectra of different minerals. The spectral modelling method used inside Re-Mix is an areal mixing model, which is the most used and the least computationally intensive process. It is based on the least-squares method and the goodness of fit (χ2) is adjusted changing the weight coefficients of the single minerals. The tool is based on Wolfram Mathematica software (Wolfram 1999). A full graphical interface was developed.

The method interprets the remote sensing data from Jupiter’s moon, Europa and Ceres asteroid. We found a number of NH4-bearing mineral mixtures can fit the planetary spectra together with other mineral species, improving the hypothesis that ammonium species should be among the non-icy materials present on the surface of Galilean moons and mixed with carbonate mineral on Ceres surface.

These knowledges will give us more detailed information from the remote data and suggestions which areas and data should have higher priority for remote investigations in the future space missions.


  • Berg, Breanne L., et al. "Reflectance spectroscopy (0.35–8 μm) of ammonium-bearing minerals and qualitative comparison to Ceres-like asteroids." Icarus 265 (2016): 218-237.
  • Cook, Jason C., et al. "Composition of Pluto’s small satellites: Analysis of New Horizons spectral images." Icarus 315 (2018): 30-45.
  • Dalle Ore, C. Morea, et al. "Ices on Charon: Distribution of H2O and NH3 from New Horizons LEISA observations." Icarus 300 (2018): 21-32.
  • Hapke, B. (1981). Bidirectional reflectance spectroscopy: 1. Theory. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 86(B4), 3039-3054.
  • Hapke, B. (2012). Theory of reflectance and emittance spectroscopy. Cambridge university press.
  • Harlov, D. E., M. Andrut, and B. Pöter. "Characterisation of tobelite (NH4)Al2 [AlSi3O10](OH2) and ND4-tobelite (ND4)Al2 [AlSi3O10](OD)2 using IR spectroscopy and Rietveld refinement of XRD spectra." Physics and Chemistry of Minerals 28.4 (2001): 268-276.
  • Jia, Xianzhe, et al. "Evidence of a plume on Europa from Galileo magnetic and plasma wave signatures." Nature Astronomy 2.6 (2018): 459-464.
  • Poch, Olivier, et al. "Ammonium salts are a reservoir of nitrogen on a cometary nucleus and possibly on some asteroids." Science 367.6483 (2020).
  • Sefton-Nash, E., et al. "Topographic, spectral and thermal inertia analysis of interior layered deposits in Iani Chaos, Mars." Icarus 221.1 (2012): 20-42.
  • Spohn, Tilman, and Gerald Schubert. "Oceans in the icy Galilean satellites of Jupiter?." Icarus 161.2 (2003): 456-467.
  • Wolfram, Stephen. The MATHEMATICA® book, version 4. Cambridge university press, 1999.
  • Zimmer, Christophe, Krishan K. Khurana, and Margaret G. Kivelson. "Subsurface oceans on Europa and Callisto: Constraints from Galileo magnetometer observations." Icarus 147.2 (2000): 329-347.

How to cite: Fastelli, M., Comodi, P., Piergallini, R., Maturilli, A., Balic-Zunic, T., and Zucchini, A.: Reflectance spectroscopy of ammonium-bearing minerals: a tool to improve the knowledge of the icy planetary bodies, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-294,, 2020.

Giulia Alemanno, Alessandro Maturilli, Jörn Helbert, and Mario D'Amore

1. Introduction

Recent spectral orbital data revealed the presence of hydrated minerals on the surfaces of small bodies, mainly thanks to the identification and the study of spectral features around 3-µm [1, 2]. These features, widely detected on the spectra of carbonaceous chondrites, are indicative of the presence of (OH)-bearing minerals. However, their appearance and shape are diverse indicating different composition and/or the occurring of subsequent alteration events. It has been suggested that thermal alteration processes, can darken the surfaces of carbonaceous chondrites, thus decreasing the reflectance values around 3 µm. Thermal alteration processes, have been considered to explain the formation of 162173 Ryugu asteroid [3]. The Near Infrared Spectrometer (NIRS3) on Hayabusa 2 mission detected a weak and narrow absorption feature centered at 2.72 µm across the entire observed surface of the C-type asteroid [2]. However, the collected spectra from the Ryugu surface show no other absorption features in the 3-µm region. To investigate on this point and to check the behaviour of the spectral features around 3 µm with thermal alteration, we performed laboratory experiments on two Mg-rich phyllosilicates (serpentine and saponite). In particular, we studied two different situations: 1) thermal alteration at increasing T - the samples were heated at different steps of 100C, starting from 100C up to 700C, for 4 hours each; 2) long time heating at constant T -  samples were heated at constant T~250C for 1 month (1st step) and then for 2 months (2nd step).

2. Experimental setup and procedure

We selected four samples of serpentine and saponite in two different grain sizes: 25-63 µm and 125-250 µm. Samples preparation, heating processes and measurements were performed in the Planetary Spectroscopy Laboratory (PSL) of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, DLR) in Berlin [4]. Three identical FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometers) instruments are operated at PSL, in an air-conditioned laboratory room. The three spectrometers are all the same identical model, Bruker Vertex 80V that can be evacuated to ~.1 mbar. Two spectrometers are equipped with aluminium mirrors optimized for the UV, visible and near-IR, the third features gold-coated mirrors for the near to far IR spectral range. Using three instruments that are identical (apart from the different internal mirrors) has some major benefits. Most importantly, it facilitates the cross-calibration between the three instruments. The instruments can also share the collection of detectors, beam splitters, and optical accessories that are available in our equipment to cover a very wide spectral range.

In the first part of our experiment, samples were heated in vacuum (~ 0.1 mbar) using the induction system in the external emissivity chamber of the PSL. The temperature of the sample was increased slowly and gradually up to the desired value. T was controlled by means of temperatures sensors located inside the chamber, in contact with the sample cup (stainless steel) rim and bottom part. After reaching the targeted T, the samples were kept stable at these temperature and pressure conditions for ~ 4 hours. After each step, the heated samples were cooled down in vacuum and then measured in the whole spectral range (from UV to IR) in bidirectional reflectance.  In parallel, two of the selected samples (serpentine 125-250 µm and saponite 125-250 µm) were stored in two autoclaves in an oven at 250C for 1 month (first set of samples), and then once again at the same temperature for two months (second set of samples). The 1-month and 2-months heated samples, after cooling down in the autoclaves, were measured in reflectance, with the same experimental setup used for the samples heated at different T steps. Bidirectional reflectance measurements were recorded in vacuum by using two of the Bruker Vertex80V FTIR spectrometers at PSL in two different angles configurations: 1) i=0e=26; 2) i=0e=40.

3. Results and discussion

The spectra acquired on the fresh and thermally processed samples of saponite (125-250 µm) are shown in Fig. 1.

Fig. 1. Spectra of saponite 125-250 µm in the full studied range.

Globally it is possible to observe: - a darkening effect occurring at High-T in the UV+VIS spectral range for both the analyzed samples; - a decreasing intensity with increasing T in the spectral features present in the region 0.35-0.7 µm; - general darkening has not been observed in the MIR spectral range; - a 0.95 µm (water absorption band) and a 2.3 µm (absorption usually attributed to Mg-OH stretching) features decrease with increasing T in both serpentine and saponite samples. Isolated bands and spectral parameters have been retrieved for a detailed study of the spectral features around 3-µm. We observed that: - the 2.7 µm feature is most prominent in the saponite samples and it tend to decrease with Hi-T, but without totally disappearing;  - the intensity of the 2.7 µm feature features strongly decrease instead in the samples of serpentine, especially in the long heated ones; - a 3.4 µm feature is present in the spectra of high-heated serpentine from 300°C on for the 25-63 µm serpentine, and for the sample of 125-250 µm serpentine heated at 600°C and 700°C.


[1] Hamilton V. E., Simon A. A., Christensen P. R.: 2019, Nature Astronomy 3, 332–340, doi: 10.1038/s41550-019-0722-2.

[2] Kitazato K. et al. (2019) Science, 364, 272–275.

[3] Sugita S. et al. (2019) Science,364, doi:10.1126/science.aaw0422. 

[4] Maturilli A.,et al. (2018), Infrared Remote Sensing and Instrumentation XXVI, Proceedings Volume107650A, doi” 10.1117/12.2319944.

How to cite: Alemanno, G., Maturilli, A., Helbert, J., and D'Amore, M.: Analysis of the 3 µm spectral features of Mg-rich phyllosilicates with temperature variations in support of the interpretation of small asteroid surface spectra, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-560,, 2020.

Rosangela Santalucia, Matteo Signorile, Lorenzo Mino, Francesca Bonino, Marco Pazzi, Akira Tsuchiyama, Giuseppe Spoto, Piero Ugliengo, and Gianmario Martra

Forsterite is a nesosilicate with Mg2SiO4 composition, representing the iron-free endmember of the family of olivines. Interestingly, aside its finding as mineral component of the Earth’s crust and mantle, it has been observed in extraterrestrial environments where have been found as principal inorganic constituents of meteorites, comets and in the core of dust grains found in the interstellar medium and in protoplanetary disks [1]. It has often been indicated that these grains could be possible sites for the occurrence of astrochemical reactions involving simple prebiotic molecules (SPM, e.g. CO, CO2, H2O, HCN, etc.). In order to assess the role of Mg2SiO4 in this prebiotic scenario, the understanding of the surface properties of grain-core phases is of primary importance. We thoroughly characterized two Mg2SiO4 model samples, namely an amorphous magnesium silicate (AMS) and a crystalline forsterite (Forst), and we compared their surface acid-base properties as a function of their structure (amorphous vs crystalline) [2]. The AMS sample was synthesized via thermal plasma route, as proposed by Koike et al. [3], whereas Forst was obtained by thermal annealing of the former at 1073 K. The acid-base properties of the two systems were investigated by monitoring the adsorption of selected probe molecules (CO, CO2 and CD3CN) by IR spectroscopy and then by studying the perturbation of their vibrational fingerprints upon interaction with specific surface functionalities. As an example, the IR spectra of CD3CN adsorbed on AMS and Forst in the υ(CN) frequency range are shown in Figure 1. The spectra for both materials are characterized by three main bands at 2300, 2266 and 2215 cm-1. The 2300 cm-1 component is assigned to CD3CN interacting with Lewis acid sites, i.e. surface Mg2+ cations, whereas the 2266 cm-1 band is assigned to the features of CD3CN interacting with weak Bronsted acid sites (surface silanols) and of not interacting CD3CN forming multilayers. These components are closely similar among both samples. Instead, they remarkably differ with respect to the 2215 cm-1 band, which is much more intense in AMS than in Forst. We assigned this signal to anionic species formed by deprotonation of acetonitrile in presence of strong surface basic sites. These results, confirmed also by the adsorption of other probe molecules, showed as AMS and Forst have a similar population of surface acid sites, whereas only the former shows a significant surface basicity.

Finally, we investigated HCN adsorption on both samples. HCN is a molecule of particular interest since its adsorption and reactivity on silicates in interstellar media is supposed to play a role in the synthesis of biomolecules contributing to the development of life [4]. The HCN reaction leads to the formation of a variety of oligomers (at least up to 12 terms) and the surface basicity, already highlighted by the other probe molecules, seems to play a key role in the process.


Figure 1. IR spectra of AMS and Forst outgassed for 2 hours at 673 K in vacuum and contacted with 40 mbar of CD3CN at r.t. (curves a) and outgassed for 30 min at r.t. after CD3CN contact (curves b). Spectra collected at decreasing CD3CN pressures are reported as thin lines for both materials. The contribution from the bare activated material has been subtracted. The spectra have been normalized to the specific surface area of the samples.



[1] T. Henning, Cosmic Silicates. Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 2010, 48, 21–46.

[2] M. Signorile, L. Zamirri, A. Tsuchiyama, P. Ugliengo, F. Bonino, G. Martra, ACS Earth Sp. Chem. 2020, 4, 345–354.

[3] C. Koike, Y. Imai, H. Chihara, H. Suto, K. Murata, A. Tsuchiyama, S. Tachibana, S. Ohara, Astrophys. J. 2010, 709, 983–992

[4] J. P. Ferris, and W. J. Hagan Jr, Tetrahedron. 1984, 40, 1093-1120.

How to cite: Santalucia, R., Signorile, M., Mino, L., Bonino, F., Pazzi, M., Tsuchiyama, A., Spoto, G., Ugliengo, P., and Martra, G.: Probing surface reactivity of amorphous and crystalline Mg2SiO4 by CO, CO2, CD3CN and HCN adsorption, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-875,, 2020.

Saponite+carbonaceous mixtures as spectral-compositional analogues for dark asteroids
Edward A. Cloutis, Alexis Parkinson, and Daniel Applin
Bastian Gundlach, Jürgen Blum, Dorothea Bischoff, Noah Molinski, Anthony Lethuillier, Christopher Kreuzig, Clément Feller, Antoine Pommerol, Nicolas Thomas, Erika Kaufmann, Maria Schweighart, Günter Kargl, Holger Sierks, Carsten Güttler, Katharina Otto, David Haack, Ekkehard Kührt, Jörg Knollenberg, Xiaojing Zhang, and Axel Hagermann

Laboratory experiments are of major importance to understand the activity of comets and to support future space missions. However, past comet simulation experiments were performed under the assumption that comets are mainly composed of water ice with only a limited amount of dust. In the past years, however, the Rosetta mission has shown that cometary nuclei consist primarily of dust and less volatile materials are present than previously thought. Hence, it is high time to set up a new series of laboratory experiments with the aim to investigate the physics of realistic cometary analogue materials. This task is currently addressed by the CoPhyLab (Comet Physics Laboratory) which is a joint project among different partner institutions. This laboratory aims at studying the physics of cometary analogue materials. This task is approached by first
investigating isolated physical properties in so-called small experiments (S experiments). In a next step, the experiment’s complexity is increased step-by-step by either adding further components to the sample, or by studying several physical properties under different conditions (large experiments, which will be performed in the L chamber). 

S1: the tensile strength of organic materials
The knowledge of the tensile strength of the cometary surface is of key importance to better understand the activity of comets. The tensile strength determines the strain required to detach material from the surface. As organic materials are ubiquitous in space, they could have played an important role during the planet formation process and are most likely incorporated into cometary nuclei. This S experiment campaign provides new measurements on the tensile strength of various granular organic materials. These materials are investigated by the Brazilian Disc Test and the measured values are normalised to a grain size of one micrometer and a volume filling factor of 0.5 for better comparability. The experiments show that the tensile strength of organic materials ranges over four orders of magnitude. Graphite and paraffin have much higher tensile strengths values compared to silica, whereas the tensile strength of coals is very low. This work demonstrates that organic materials are not generally stickier than silicates, or water ice.

S2: gas permeability of analogue materials  
The cometary nucleus is made of water ice, organics and silicateous dust and the ice is trapped inside the matrix of non-volatiles. Hence, the evolving gas has to stream away from its originating region inside the surface layers towards the surface. This work package has the aim to investigate the gas transport mechanisms through porous cometary analogue materials. Therefore, gas flow measurements are performed to investigate the permeability of several materials, which are chosen to mimic cometary surface properties. With these measurements, the gas permeability and the Knudsen diffusion coefficient of the sample materials are obtained. These simulants are tested with respect to different filling heights, packing properties and grain shapes. The gas flow experiments show that the grain size distribution and the packing density of the samples are primarily influencing the permeability of the sample. 

S3: thermal conductivity of analogue materials
Measurements of the thermal properties of analogue materials are essential in interpreting remote sensing data and the findings of in-situ instruments. The thermal properties of the subsurface layers determine the surface temperature of asteroids and comets. The temperature stratification inside planetary object is a key parameter to understand the processing of their interior. This experiment campaign is dedicated to measure the thermal properties of analogue materials. In preparation for these measurements we have set up a small vacuum chamber equipped with an infrared camera and temperature sensors. The samples are illuminated for a short duration by a laser. We then compare the measured temperature profiles with the predictions of a thermophysical model to determine the thermal conductivity of the samples.

S4: ejection of material
When comets approach the Sun, the sublimation pressure will be reached inside the material. If the tensile strength is exceeded by the evolving pressure, the particles can be ejected from the cometary surface and are accelerated. However, the details of the dust dynamics close to the surface are not understood in detail. The idea of this S experiment campaign is to develop an experimental routine to track ejected particles from a sample composed of granular water ice. Therefore, we recorded the power of the illumination, the temperature of the sample and measured the particle trajectories with an high speed camera. Furthermore, the experiments are also simulated by a thermophysical model. Our experiments show that samples composed of pure granular water ice can eject water-ice particles by the pressure build up of water vapour in their interior. Compressed samples posses an higher activity level (ejection events per second) compared to uncompressed samples. The ejected particles have a non-zero initial velocity which is most probably caused by a very fast acceleration of the particles before the first data point is recorded by the camera.

The L chamber
The core of this project is the realisation of a comet simulation chamber which will be capable to utilise multiple instruments to monitor and measure the sample properties before, during and after the experiment campaigns. This chamber will be used to perform long duration experiments at low temperatures and low pressures. At this stage (end of June, 2020), the chamber is already installed in place and is vacuum tight, the cooling shield is assembled and the sample carrier cart as well as the self-made glove box are ready to use. The next steps comprise the integration of the cooling shield and the main cooling system. We foresee to run the first experiments in approximately six weeks from now. During the EPSC conference we will provide a technical overview of the chamber and we will present the first experiments performed in the L chamber.

This work was carried out in the framework of the CoPhyLab project funded by the D-A-CH programme (GU 1620/3-1 and BL 298/26-1 / SNF 200021E 177964 / FWF I 3730-N36). DB and JB thank the Deutsches Zentrum f\"ur Luft- und Raumfahrt for support under grant 50WM1846.

How to cite: Gundlach, B., Blum, J., Bischoff, D., Molinski, N., Lethuillier, A., Kreuzig, C., Feller, C., Pommerol, A., Thomas, N., Kaufmann, E., Schweighart, M., Kargl, G., Sierks, H., Güttler, C., Otto, K., Haack, D., Kührt, E., Knollenberg, J., Zhang, X., and Hagermann, A.: CoPhyLab: recent and future experiments - an overview, Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-218,, 2020.

Anna Mocker, Marcel Bauer, Adrian Eilingsfeld, Jan Gläser, Eberhard Grün, Yan-Wei Li, Jonas Simolka, Heiko Strack, and Ralf Srama

Due to the their ubiquity and the high impact energy leading to extremely high temperatures and pressures in the affected materials, the physical processes caused by HVIs play an important role in a variety of fields such as the investigation of matter at extreme pressures and temperature, shock waves in solid bodies or even Solar System research, planetology, cosmic dust research and space engineering:

  • Cratering phenomena throughout the Solar System :The first systematic investigation of HVIs of micro-meteoroites was dedicated to the understanding of micro-cratering on lunar rock samples. The size and morphology of resulting micro-craters was investigated as a function of particle size and impact speed.
  • Planetology – Characterization, development and calibration of dust sensors measuring the composition, size and trajectory information of micrometeoroids aboard interplanetary spacecrafts.
  • Astrobiology – Simulation of hyper-velocity impacts of organic micron-sized projectiles and mass spectrometric analysis of impact plasmas containing complex organic molecules; simulation of micrometeoroid impacts onto water ice surfaces.
  • Space weathering: Alteration of bombarded surfaces
  • Cosmic Dust research: A major part of what we know today of HVIs of micro-meteoroites was obtained in the process of developing, calibrating and operation of in situ instruments for the investigation of dust in the Solar System. Thereby induced physical processes generate measurable signals which are then transmitted to Earth and can be analyzed afterwards.There are a variety of methods for in situ dust measurements such as the detection of thin foil penetration, the particle charge, the emerging impact flash or ions generated upon impact, revealing the particles’ velocity, trajectory, mass and even chemical composition. Of all these methods, the generation of charge during impacts provides one of the most sensitive methods for the detection and and the most comprehensible characterization of dust particles in space. The characterization of the dynamical and even chemical properties of dust particles in the Solar System allows us to investigate the origin of cosmic dust and its role in the formation of the Solar System and even its role in the origin of life.
  • Impact physics/Materials under extreme conditions – Investigation of plasma and material conditions of projectile-surface interactions under hyper-velocity impact conditions.

Electrostatic dust accelerators 

To calibrate in-situ dust  instruments and to get a deeper understanding of the processes involved, hypervelocity impact measurements under similar and well defined conditions are required. For this purpose, a Van-de-Graaff type ion accelerator was modified at the MPI-K/HD in the late 1960ies. The accelerator was equipped with a dust source capable of charging and accelerating dust particles (Fig. 1).

The accelerator covers a large portion of the speed and size ranges needed for most cosmic applications with velocities between 1 to about 80 km s−1 (Fig. 2).

After being located for over 5 decades at the MPI-K, the dust accelerator has been moved to the IRS/UniS. This relocation gives us the opportunity to optimize the set up and the also the whole dust research laboratory in its entirety.

Particle properties and beam monitoring

The dust beam originates from the dust source within the high voltage terminal of the accelerator.(Fig.1). After exiting the source, the dust particles are accelerated in the electrostatic field towards the experimental set-up. Before reaching the experiment chamber, the particles are registered, characterized, and eventually selected while passing the beam line detectors of the Particle Selection Unit (PSU). For this, the particles are been detected by a chain of detectors measuring the particle's primary surface charge using an induction tube and a charge-sensitive amplifier (CSA). The PSU determines the grain speed and mass in order to select individual dust grains on the basis of a speed and mass window given by the experimentator. 

Cosmological relevant materials 

Dust Materials: For the above described method of acceleration to work, the particles must therefore be capable of carrying charge and hence the range of materials used has been restricted to those which are either wholly conductive or those with a conductive coating. In the last few years two techniques of coating underwent significant improvements, opening up a whole new range of material types to investigate.

Target Materials: Due to the bean geometry and the vacuum conditions , there are a variety of constraints fr the target mounting and properties. Solid metal and silicate target, of terrestrial and meteoritic origin,  can be easily used and have been investigated numerous times in the past. Experiments with icy targets are planned for the near future. 

Investigation of impact ionization with A linear TOF mass spectrometer

The characteristics of the impact plasma, such as the velocity distribution of the ions and the ion appearance in the mass spectra, can be analyzed with a linear TOF mass spectrometer. Here, the combination of velocity and angular distributions of the ions results  in a broadening of the mass lines, determining their shapes. To study the distribution of the ion velocities alone, we developed an optimized narrow aperture mass spectrometer (Fig.3). 

The simple set up and the almost homogenous fields allow to calculate the flight times due to the known response function of the instrument. The measured mass line profile can be inverted for the distribution of initial velocity and subsequently the initial kinetic energies of the ions as shown in Fig.4.

In addition to TOF other important measurements will address: cratering, secondary  ejecta, neutral production, optical spectroscopy of the of the impact flash, and the characterization of the EM waves.The combination of future theoretical studies of the impact processes and the subsequent expansion of the impact produce plasma with this expanded set of measurements will be a powerful tool to investigate the state of the hot compressed matter. 

How to cite: Mocker, A., Bauer, M., Eilingsfeld, A., Gläser, J., Grün, E., Li, Y.-W., Simolka, J., Strack, H., and Srama, R.: Hypervelocity impact research with an electrostatic dust accelerator , Europlanet Science Congress 2020, online, 21 Sep–9 Oct 2020, EPSC2020-1055,, 2020.