Image of the meteorite Allen Hills 83100 illustrating spectral differences
False color nano-FTIR image of an area in the meteorite Allen Hills 83100 illustrating spectral differences. At each point with a letter, nano-FTIR spectra were obtained to determine mineralogy. Credit: Young et al. [2022], Figure 5
Editors’ Highlights are summaries of recent papers by AGU’s journal editors.
Source: Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets

The mid-infrared has been used frequently to understand the mineralogy or composition of rock or powdered samples in the laboratory and planetary surfaces through spacecraft observations. In the past, using the mid-infrared was limited to samples larger than a micron (1000th of a millimeter) in size, which limited the use of this instrument in understanding important tiny details related to processes within minerals and grains.

Young et al. [2022] use a new and significant method, the nanoscale near-field infrared imaging and spectroscopy. The importance of this new method is that it can be used on asteroid returned samples from missions, such as OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa2, to examine the composition and structure of mineral grains down to the nanoscale. This is especially useful for identifying organic molecules and their relationships with surrounding minerals as it will help understand how complex organic compounds are formed. Before using this method on returned samples, they successfully applied this method to a meteorite, Allen Hills 83100, to demonstrate its utility, which includes the usefulness of nano-Fourier transform infrared (nano-FTIR) images and spectra in identifying and describing mineral composition and structure.

Citation: Young, J. M., Glotch, T. D., Yesiltas, M., Hamilton, V. E., Breitenfeld, L. B., Bechtel, H. A., et al. (2022). Nano-FTIR investigation of the CM chondrite Allan Hills 83100. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 127, e2021JE007166.

 —David Trang, Associate Editor, Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets

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