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2007 Annual Science Report

University of Hawaii, Manoa Reporting  |  JUL 2006 – JUN 2007

Acquisition of Witec Confolcal Raman Scanning System

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Field Sites

Project Progress

This report describes the acquisition of a Witec Confocal Raman microscope scanning system that was purchased with money from the University of Hawaii and from the NASA Astrobiology Institute. This instrument will be used in concert with the ion microprobe and our scanning electron microscope to study the composition, mineralogy and structure of solar system samples.

The Raman system was installed in November of 2006 and training was held immediately thereafter. The first users began working with the instrument in early December. In January, 2007, a new Post Doc, Lydie Bonal, who did her PhD on organic material in primitive chondrites using Raman spectroscopy, arrived at the University of Hawaii. She has been a tremendous help in training us to use the instrument, helping to improve the hardware so that it can be more easily used, and showing us how to design and carry our Raman studies. She is supported by the NASA Cosmochemistry program.

We reported some initial data gathered by this instrument at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (Zinin et al., 2007). The project was unrelated to Astrobiology.

We submitted an abstract to the 70th Meteoritical Society Meeting in Tucson describing a combined petrographic-Confocal Raman study of organic material in inclusions from CH/CB chondrites. This study is aimed at understanding the nature of the organic materials in the fine-grained nebular dust that became our solar system and thus is directly related to Astrobiology. It has been suggested that come carbonaceous chondrites contain multiple generations of chondrules formed by different mechanisms at different times in the protoplanetary disk. The work suggests that chondrules of CH chondrites formed at a different time or in a different nebular region than chondrules from other chondrite groups, and that either the scale of chondrule-forming event(s) was relatively small and the number of events in a localized nebular region where these formed was limited, or that the events had little effect other inclusions, such as CAIs.

Now that the new instrument is up and running, others from UH will join us in working with this powerful instrument on projects related to Astrobiology.