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Mineralogy and space weathering of asteroid dust returned by the Hayabusa space mission

Prof Falko Langenhorst | Institute of Mineralogy and Geochemistry |  Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena

Hayabusa I is a Japanese space mission to an asteroid named Itokawa. The spacecraft is the first one to land on an asteroid and to return precious sample material to Earth. The mission is in a way a travel through time to the origin of the solar system, because the dust particles are the oldest relics of the formation of planetesimals. The larger particles were studied by international scientific teams, revealing unique information on early processes in the solar system, in particular on a process which is unknown on Earth – space weathering. The talk will report on the mission itself, the main scientific results and first attempts to reproduce space weathering in the laboratory. Special emphasis will be given to electron microscopic observations.