Astrophysicists consider that around 40% of the ordinary matter that makes up stars, planets and galaxies remains undetected, concealed in the form of a hot gas in the complex cosmic web. Today, IAS scientists may have detected, for the first time, this hidden matter through an innovative statistical analysis of 20-year-old data.
On October 21st, 2020, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft succeeded in touching asteroid Bennu to collect samples from the surface. Launched in September 2016 and in orbit since December 2018, it was doing a detailed survey of the surface to map and select the best sample collection site. OSIRIS-REx will deliver the samples to Earth in September 2023.
How to measure and visualize in 3D the composition and structure of a micrometric extraterrestrial grain without destroying it? Researchers from the "Astrochemistry and Origin" team of the IAS and from the SOLEIL synchrotron, in collaboration with two Japanese laboratories, have shown that this is possible. Coupling IR and X-ray micro-tomography the scientist analyzed samples from the asteroid Itokawa, collected by the Hayabusa probe (JAXA).
Frozen surfaces of small bodies in the outer Solar System are exposed to cosmic and solar energetic ions. Thanks to laboratory experiments, scientists from the “Astrochemistry and Origins” team at IAS and the Florida Space Institute (USA) estimated the alterations induced by ion irradiation on the methanol-rich surfaces of such objects.