Theoretical analysis of the atmospheric entry of sub-mm meteoroids of MgxCa1−xCO3 composition

1G. Micca Longo, 1,2,3S. Longo
Icarus (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2017.12.001]
1Department of Chemistry, University of Bari, via Orabona 4, Bari, 70126, Italy
2CNR-Nanotec, via Amendola 122/D, Bari, 70126, Italy
3INAF-Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Largo E. Fermi 5, Firenze, I-50125, Italy
Copyright Elsevier

Current models allow to reliably simulate mechanical and thermal phenomena associated with a micrometeor passage through the Earth’s atmosphere. However, these models have rarely been applied to materials other than those most common in meteorites, such as silicates and metals. A particular case that deserves attention is the one of micrograins made of minerals, in particular carbonates, which have been associated, in meteorites, with organic molecules. Carbonates are known for their decomposition in vacuum at moderate temperatures, and they might contribute to the thermal protection of organic matter. In this work, a model with non isothermal atmosphere, power balance, evaporation, ablation, radiation losses and stoichiometry, is proposed. This paper includes the very first calculations for meteoroids with a mixed carbonate composition. Results show that the carbonate fraction of these objects always go to zero at high altitudes except for grazing entries, where the reached temperature is lower and some carbonate remains unreacted. For all entry conditions, peculiar temperature curves are obtained due to the decomposition process. Furthermore, a significant impact of decomposition cooling on the temperature peak is observed for some grazing entry cases. Although specific solutions used in these calculations can be improved, this work sets a definite model and a basis for future research on sub-mm grains of relatively volatile minerals entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

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