Matching FT-IR Microscopy to Infrared Telescopy Helps Unravel Earth’s Mysteries
Astrophysicists have made dra- matic strides in understanding the formation of the solar system by orbiting enormous Infrared (IR) telescopes that allow them to generate Infrared spectra from clouds of molecular dust that are in the process of forming stars and planets. A major challenge researchers face is that many of the IR spectra collected from the interstellar dust are not found anywhere on earth, making it
impossible to identify the che- mical composition of the dust. Dr. Andreas Morlok and col- leagues at the Natural History Museum of London, United Kingdom, are helping to over- come this problem by using the PerkinElmer® AutoIMAGE™ Fourier Transform-Infrared (FT-IR) microscope to examine fine grained material from primitive meteorites found on Earth. These meteorites were formed in the same environment as the
molecular dust clouds so they contain many of the same chemical species as molecular dust, which makes them a valuable source of reference data. When Morlok matches the IR spectra found in a meteorite to one found in outer space, he can then analyze the meteorite sample with an elec- tron microscope to perform a mineralogical characterization and in this way identify the ma- terials that presumably played a role in the earth’s formation.