Extraterrestrial materials that come to Earth as meteorites or collected by missions into space by humans, satellites or rovers provide key links to the origins of planets and solar systems. Rock and mineral samples that make it to Earth through direct sampling or as meteorites are precious and their study demands limited invasive analysis and maximization of the materials in hand. Study of analogues and simulated materials allow improved ability to interpret what we is seen through remote sensing, and develop remote tools to operate in the rugged and extreme environments on other planetary bodies. Bruker partners with scientists to provide the appropriate tools for your research in planetary geology.
Meteorites and micro-meteorites are among the only accessible solid materials from non-Earth/Moon rocky bodies, commonly preserving the records of processes dating back to the formation of the solar system. Classification of meteorites is based on a combination of mineralogical, bulk chemical, and isotopic compositions, and commonly relies on destructive analytical techniques. However, information on their origins doesn't just come from bulk compositions but the spatial distributions of minerals and elements. Geochemical and mineralogical mapping techniques provide these key data.
Direct samples of the moon are limited, and include those returned from the Luna unmanned and Apollo manned missions to the lunar surface in the 1960's and 1970's, and meteorites that have made it to Earth through much of its history. Samples of lunar rock and regolith are among our best physical record of a planetary surface and provide important information about the origin of the moon and its relationship to Earth, as well as the nature of impact processes and their evolution through time in the solar system. Bruker's tools for non-invasive micro-analysis provide focused solutions for the in-depth study of natural and synthetic lunar materials.
Analog studies help prepare for geologic work on other planets and provide insight into other rocky bodies in our solar system. Analog field expeditions transform similar parts of the Earth into field research, development laboratories and proving grounds for procedures, methodologies, and technologies. Analog science missions explore the extremes of surface environments on Earth to better understand the processes and products of current or past planetary locations. Analog sites are selected for geologic, environmental, or chemical similarities to other planets, moons, or asteroids. Bruker tools are used in planetary analog studies to:
The incorporation of analytical technology into analog studies enables more realistic evaluations of operating procedures, workflows, and human reactions to the presence of data. Field data collection can also enhance terrestrial science missions by providing real-time data and more accurately simulating the types of data analysis that will be collected on Mars, the Moon, asteroids and beyond. Bruker has been engaged with governments and universities in deploying portable and handheld equipment for analog missions, the development of low-cost instrumentation for destructive testing of innovative robotic protocols, and the developments of methods to meet analytical requirements on remote missions.
Bruker's portfolio of field-portable tools can be used in analog studies:
Much about what we know of bombardment processes comes from the study of terrestrial impact craters. From the geometry of the final crater, reaction products (deformed rocks and minerals, impact melts, and ejecta) formed due to the high velocity of the impact and the ages of impact events, these remnants of past impacts tell us much about processes that shaped Earth and other rocky planets. Micro-structural and -compositional analysis of terrestrial impact products represent a first order constraint on models and projections for impact processes that have operated on Earth and elsewhere in the solar system.