Imaging & Spectroscopy

Laser Scanning Confocal Microscopy of Comet Material in Aerogel

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
August 15, 2023
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Laser Scanning Confocal Microscopy of Comet Material in Aerogel
Digital photograph of Keystone 152 on its fork. Scale in mm. Image courtesy D. Frank, JSC. Inset: Schematic of new acrylic sample mount. — astro-ph.EP

We report non-destructive 3-dimensional imaging and analysis techniques for material returned by the Stardust cometary collector.

Our technique utilizes 3-dimensional laser scanning confocal microscopy (3D LSCM) to image whole Stardust tracks, in situ, with attainable resolutions <90 nm/pixel edge. LSCM images illustrate track morphology and fragmentation history; image segmentation techniques provide quantifiable volumetric and dynamic measurements. We present a method for multipart image acquisition and registration in 3-D.

Additionally, we present a 3D deconvolution method for aerogel, using a theoretically calculated point spread function for first-order corrections of optical aberrations induced by light diffraction and refractive index mismatches.

LSCM is a benchtop technique and is an excellent alternative to synchrotron x-ray computed microtomography for optically transparent media. Our technique, developed over the past 2 years, is a non-invasive, rapid technique for fine-scale imaging of high value returned samples from the Stardust mission, as well as various other samples from the geosciences.

Figure 4 – Slices of bulb section of T152, 12-bit images. Every 25th slice is shown in this
mosaic of the entry area of T152. A contrast stretch is applied where brighter areas
indicate regions of higher reflectance.

Michael Greenberg, Denton S. Ebel

Comments: 17 pages, 6 figures, 2 tables
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Geophysics (physics.geo-ph); Optics (physics.optics)
Cite as: arXiv:2308.03199 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2308.03199v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Journal reference: Geosphere 6: 515-523 (2010)
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Submission history
From: Denton Ebel
[v1] Sun, 6 Aug 2023 20:02:02 UTC (382 KB)
Astrobiology, Astrochemistry

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻