Organic Captured from Comet 81P/Wild 2 by the Stardust Spacecraft
Prof. Richard N. Zare
Organics found in comet 81P/Wild 2 samples show a heterogeneous and unequilibrated distribution in abundance and composition. Some organics are similar, but not identical, to those in interplanetary dust particles and carbonaceous meteorites. A class of aromatic-poor organic material is also present. The organics are rich in oxygen and nitrogen compared with meteoritic organics. Aromatic compounds are present, but the samples tend to be relatively poorer in aromatics than are meteorites and interplanetary dust particles. The presence of deuterium and nitrogen-15 excesses suggest that some organics have an interstellar/protostellar heritage. Although the variable extent of modification of these materials by impact capture is not yet fully constrained, a diverse suite of organic compounds is present and identifiable within the returned samples.