PAA Proposals

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Due Date April 28

Proposals to this program will be taken by a two-step process, in which the Notice of Intent is replaced by a required Step-1 proposal submitted by an Authorized Organizational Representative. Only proposers who submit a Step-1 proposal are eligible to submit a Step-2 (full) proposal. See Section 6 for details. Step-1 proposals are due April 28, 2014, and Step-2 proposals are due June 27, 2014.

Step 1 proposal

The Scientific/Technical/Management section of the Step-1 proposal is restricted to one page in length and should include a description of the science goals and objectives to be addressed by the proposal, a brief description of the methodology to be used to address the science goals and objectives, and the relevance of the proposed research to this call. The relevance section will be used to confirm that the proposal is submitted to the correct program element. No evaluation of intrinsic merit will be performed on Step-1 proposals. The NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System (NSPIRES) system for proposal submission requires that Step-1 proposals include a summary describing the proposed work; the Scientific/Technical/Management section must be uploaded as the PDF "Proposal Attachment." Proposers will be notified when they are to submit their Step-2 proposals. If NASA determines that the proposed investigation should instead be submitted to another program, proposers will receive instructions on how to properly submit their Step-2 proposal.

Scope of Program

The goal of the Laboratory Analysis of Returned Samples (LARS) Program is to maximize the scientific return from the samples provided by missions such as Genesis, Stardust, and Hayabusa (see further below) through development of laboratory instrumentation and advanced analytical techniques required for the complete analyses of the samples they return. In addition, this program supports analytical work on samples returned by recent Planetary Science Division missions, including Genesis and Stardust, as well as samples returned by Hayabusa. Proposals solicited under this program include those that seek to develop new analytical instrumentation or combinations of analytical instruments, or new components of analytical instruments, leading to significant improvements in the precision, resolution, or sensitivity of measurements compared to the existing state of the art. Also of interest are proposals for the development of new analytical techniques for existing instrumentation that will push the limits of current technology, for example, by the elimination of analytical interferences or contamination problems. In all cases, both the development efforts and the clear relevance to NASA sample- return missions must be clearly documented in the proposals. Proposals may seek to develop analytical capabilities for future sample-return missions. However, work that addresses the needs of current or selected missions have the highest priority. Some proposals may seek to develop instrumentation and techniques that will be used by only a small number of investigators at a single institution. However, in other instances, the high cost of the instrument and its associated support structure may allow the development of only a limited number of such facilities that must be shared by the entire research community. For these larger and more expensive facilities, proposers should include detailed plans for facility management based on the size of the anticipated user base, including facility oversight, the fraction of time that will be made available to outside users, and the mechanism for allotting such time on a regular basis. In all cases, cost-sharing arrangements in the development of new instrumentation or techniques and evidence of a long-term institutional commitment to the analysis of returned samples will be viewed favorably in the selection process. Collaborations between instrument C.18-1 builders and scientists who understand the samples to be analyzed are encouraged. Ongoing laboratory support (e.g., service contracts) will generally not be supported. This program supports analysis of extraterrestrial samples from sample return missions, with the exception of lunar samples, whose analysis is supported by LDAP (C.8) and Solar System Workings (C.3). Also excluded from LARS, but included in the C.2 Emerging Worlds (C.2) program, are analyses of meteorites or cosmic dust, unless these analyses are directly in support of the interpretation of mission data. Returned samples from NASA Planetary Science missions, plus a subset of samples returned by Hayabusa, are allocated by the Astromaterials Curator at NASA Johnson Space Center after approval by CAPTEM and NASA Headquarters. If your proposal requires the use of any returned material, such as that from Genesis or Stardust, please review the information at and make a request to the Astromaterials Curator, as described.

Previous equipment used

The MegaSIMS, developed at UCLA, is a hybrid of a secondary ion mass spectrometer and an accelerator mass spectrometer (Mao et al., 2008). It was developed with the specific goal of measuring the oxygen isotopic composition of solar wind implanted in collectors flown on the Genesis mission. The development was driven by the need to eliminate the interference of 16OH on 17O in solar wind implants that have huge H/O ratios. The instrument succeeded and prelimi- nary results were presented at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in March, 2008. The results are extraordinary: the Sun appears to be 5% richer in 16O (McKeegan et al., 2009) than most samples known, including the Earth, Moon, Mars, most Comet Wild 2 dust, all bulk mete- orites and most objects within those meteorites, the sole exception being some minerals in refrac- tory inclusions in meteorites and, of all places, in Wild 2 dust.

The low concentrations of many elements place a premium on sensitivity of depth profil- ing measurements. The SARISA instrument, built at Argonne National Laboratory, uses lasers to resonantly ionize sputtered neutral atoms from Genesis targets (Veryovkin et al., 2004, 2008). These photoions are then extracted and mass analyzed with a time-of-flight mass spectrometer. This technique allows almost complete freedom from isobaric interferences, since only the ele- ment of interest is ionized, and very high sensitivity, since sputtering yields mostly neutral at- oms, not ions. The SARISA instrument has a measured useful yield (atoms counted in the detec- tor per atom removed from the surface) of ~25%, far better than state-of-the-art secondary ion mass spectrometers.

The Genesis mission has also benefited from NASA investments in commercially built instruments, including secondary ion mass spectrometers, noble gas mass spectrometers, and in- ductively coupled plasma (ICP) mass spectrometers. The Genesis mission also stimulated sig- nificant investment by European countries in laboratories at the Centre de Recherches Pétro- graphiques et Géochimiques-Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Nancy, France; ETH Zürich, Switzerland; and at the Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom.

PAA role?

The goal appears to be the identification of 0.1 micron size dust particles embedded in a collector (Aerogel). The Stardust mission had an Aerogel collector with a surface area of 1000 cm^2 and expect to find 45 dust particles. AFter looking at 1/3 of the collector they may have found 4.

Potential interstellar dust gain signatures

The development was driven by the need to eliminate the interference of 16OH on 17O in solar wind implants that have huge H/O ratios.

look for a study that uses ICPMS to measure O-16 and O-17.

"The captured Wild 2 samples are predominantly fine-grained, loosely bound aggregates, most also containing much larger individual crystals of olivine, pyroxene and iron/nickel sulfides. All analyses suggest that small and large Wild 2 particles are composed of a similar, if not identical, suite of minerals."


"There are strong infrared extinction features peaking at 9.7 µm and 18 µm which are almost certainly due to amorphous silicates with a composition approximating that of olivine (MgxFe2-xSiO4)."

"In dark clouds, a number of additional features appear in the infrared extinction, presumably due to growth of molecular ice mantles on the refractory dust grain cores. The strongest feature is at 3.08 µm and is due to amorphous H2O ice. Additional features have been identified as frozen CH3OH (3.53 µm), CO (4.67 µm), CH4 (7.65 µm), and CO2 (15.2 µm)."

dust grain composition in meteorites

Composition diameter(µm) Abund. (2)
C (diamond) 0.002 5 × 10-4
SiC (3) 0.3-20 6 × 10-6
C (graphite) (3) 1-20 1 × 10-6
Al2O3 (corundum) 0.5-3 3 × 10-8
Si3N4 ~ 1 2 × 10-9

Neutron Knockout reactions

Natural Isotop Neutron Knockout Decay photon Energy (keV) half life
Si-28 Si-27 [math]\Rightarrow[/math] Al-27 1014 4 s
Mg-24 Mg-23 [math] \Rightarrow[/math] Na-23 440 11 s
Fe-56 Fe-55 [math] \Rightarrow[/math] Mn-55 126 2 years

step 1 proposal

We propose to construct a system to measure the location and concentration of atoms embedded in materials used to collect interstellar dust samples using an activation analysis interrogation system. This is accomplished by exciting the nucleus of the atom of interest in the sample and then measuring both the location and energy of the photons emitted by those excited atoms. Actuated stepping motors are used to accurately position the sample inform of an collimating HpGe detector. A map of the elements in the sample is determine by encoding the measured activity of observed photon energies with the physical location of the activity in the sample. The proposed scanning system would be able to locate atoms of interest in materials that have been used to collect interstellar dust sample.

science goals and objectives


summary describing proposed work