Interplanetary dust particles (IDPs) are among the most pristine and primitive extraterrestrial materials available for direct study. Most of the stratospheric particles selected for study from the JSC Curatorial Collection were chondritic in composition (major element abundances within a factor of two of chondritic meteorites) because this composition virtually ensures that the particle is from an extraterrestrial source. It is likely that some of the most interesting classes of IDP's have not been recognized simply because they are not chondritic or do not fit established criteria for extraterrestrial origin. Indeed, mass spectroscopy data from the Giotto Flyby of comet Halley indicate that a substantial fraction of the dust is in the submicron size range and that a majority of these particles contain C, H, O, and/or N as major elements. The preponderance of CHON particles in the coma of Halley implies that similar particles may exist in the JSC stratospheric dust collection. However, the JSC collection also contains a variety of stratospheric contaminants from terrestrial sources which have these same characteristics. Because established criteria for extraterrestrial origin may not apply to such particles in individual cases, and integrated approach is required in which a variety of analysis techniques are applied to the same particle. Non-chondritic IDP's, like their chondritic counterparts, can be used to elucidate pre- and early solar system processes and conditions. The study of non-chondritic IDP's may additionally yield unique information which bears on the nature of cometary bodies and the processing of carbonaceous and other low atomic number materials. A suite of complementary techniques, including Low Voltage Scanning Electron Microscopy (LVSEM), Energy-Dispersive X-ray Microanalysis (EDX), Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) isotope-ratio imaging and Analytical Electron Microscopy (AEM), were utilized to accomplish the following two objectives: (1) to develop criteria for the unequivocal identification of extraterrestrial non-chondritic IDP's; and (2) to infer IDP parent body, solar nebula, and pre-solar conditions through the study of phases, textures, and components contained within non-chondritic IDP's. The general approach taken is designed to maximize the total information obtained from each particle. Techniques will be applied in order from least destructive to most destructive.
NASA, Washington, Fourth Symposium on Chemical Evolution and the Origin and Evolution of Life; p 109