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From Moon Rocks to Space Dust: Berkeley Lab’s Extraterrestrial Research

13 Jun 2018, 10:42 UTC
From Moon Rocks to Space Dust: Berkeley Lab’s Extraterrestrial Research
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Artist’s rendering of a large meteorite impact on Earth. (Credit: NASA)
Specialized equipment, techniques, and expertise attract samples from far, far away
BERKELEY, Calif. (Berkeley Lab PR) — From moon rocks to meteorites, and from space dust to a dinosaur-destroying impact, the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has a well-storied expertise in exploring samples of extraterrestrial origin.
This research – which has helped us to understand the makeup and origins of objects within and beyond our solar system – stems from the Lab’s long-standing core capabilities and credentials in structural and chemical analyses and measurement at the microscale and nanoscale.
Berkeley Lab’s participation in a new study, detailed June 11 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (see related news release), focused on the chemical composition of tiny glassy grains of interplanetary particles – likely deposited in Earth’s upper atmosphere by comets – that contain dust leftover from the formative period of our solar system.
That study involved experiments at the Lab’s Molecular Foundry, a nanoscale research facility, and the Advanced Light Source (ALS), which supplies different types of light, from infrared light to X-rays, for dozens of simultaneous experiments.
An artistic rendering ...

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