Nanoscale Spectroscopic Identification and Characterization of Minerals and Organic Matter in Ryugu Particles

Mehmet Yesiltas, Timothy D. Glotch, Yoko Kebukawa, Bogdan Sava, Yasin C. Durmaz and Paul Northrup

JGR Planets 129, 4 (2024)
Carbonaceous asteroids are leftover materials from the early solar system. They did not undergo planetary differentiation processes and thus still retained signatures and clues of the origin and evolution of the solar system. Thus, samples of carbonaceous asteroids provide significant potential for deciphering the origin of the solar system. The Hayabusa2 spacecraft returned the first samples of a carbonaceous asteroid (162173) Ryugu. In this work, we report the nanoscale mineralogy and organic matter content of two Ryugu particles, A0030 and C0034. These were analyzed by highly novel scattering-type scanning near-field optical microscopy (s-SNOM)-based nanoscale-Fourier transform infrared (nano-FTIR) spectroscopy with ∼20 nm spatial resolution. The nano-FTIR measurements were supported by confocal micro-Raman imaging and spectroscopy (∼500 nm/pixel spatial sampling). Our investigations show that the two Ryugu particles (a) contain different silicate mineralogies, indicating heterogeneous and incomplete aqueous alteration and (b) are highly rich in organic matter, consisting a variety of molecular functional groups. The spatial distributions of chemical functional groups and their associations based on pseudo-heterodyne (PsHet) SNOM imaging show that the organic matter is distributed as either diffused or discrete grains. Micro-Raman spectra show that the Ryugu particles experienced minimal thermal metamorphism, although A0030 was slightly more heated than C0034. The identification of abundant nanoscale organic molecules within the Ryugu grains that could not be identified via micrometer-scale investigations emphasizes the importance of using nanoscale nondestructive methods for studying primitive solar system materials, such as Ryugu and OSIRIS-Rex particles and those that will be returned in the future (such as MMX samples).