Dust Analogue Simulation Facility: production, characterization, processing of dust analogues

Provided by: INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte



Scientific Contact:

Dr. Vito Mennella
INAF- Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte
Salita Moiariello 16
80131 Napoli

Phone 00 39 081 5575543 Fax 00 39 081 456710

Local administrative contact (once a TNA visit is awarded):

Ms F. Bencivenga
INAF- Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte

Phone 00 39 081 5575512 Fax 00 39 081 5575562


Facility Description

Unique facility: different experimental approaches and set up available to obtain complementary information on dust analogues

Production of dust analogues (several techniques: arc discharge, laser ablation, grinding of minerals, ices)
Characterization (Spectroscopy, Electron microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, chromatography, mass spectroscopy)
Processing (Thermal annealing, UV irradiation, Atom irradiation)

The Facility can provide spectroscopic data of analogues on a wide range (UV-mm)

The spectral data are integrated with information on morphology (size, shape), chemical composition, and structure

It is possible to study (in situ) the spectral evolution of the samples with thermal annealing, UV irradiation and gas interaction


Perkin-Elmer Lambda 19 equipped with an integrating sphere, operating range 190-3200 nm

FT-IR Bruker Equinox 55 with IR microscope

FT-IR Bruker IFS 66v operating range(2-2000 mm) with Raman module

FT-IR Bruker Vertex 80v operating range (2-2000 mm)


Measurements of the extinction efficiency of dust samples (Colangeli et al. 1995)

IR Reflectance Spectroscopy of Martian Analogues
Esposito et al., 2000, JGR 105 E7.

Derivation of optical constants
Zubko et al. 1996, MNRAS 282 p1321
Roush et al. 2007, JGR 112, E10003

Optical constants of gypsum and associated standard deviation errors derived from reflectance measurements (Roush et al 2007). An expanded view of the infrared region is shown in the inset.

Electron Microscope

Field Emission Scanning Electron microscope Zeiss Supra 25 (resolution 2 nm)

EDX analyzer Incax-sight (Oxford Instruments)

For preliminary analysis of dust analogue samples (e. g. shape and grain distribution)

To characterise extraterrestrial samples


Analysis of grains of comet Wild 2 - STARDUST mission
Keller et al. 2006, Science, 314, p1728
Sandford et al. 2006, Science, 314, p1720
Rotundi et al. 2008, MandPS, 43, p367

FESEM image of a Stardust particle (41,7). It appears very porous and fluffy and may be covered by aerogel particularly in the area indicated by the black arrows. (Rotundi et al. 2008)

Thermal annealing of dust analogues

Vacuum chamber for dust annealing (P< 10-5 mbar).

Temperature controller. Sample temperature up to 1300 K

Analytical techniques : IR spectroscopy (2-20 mm).

To study structural modification induced by heat in different dust materials


Dehydrogenation of hydrogenated carbon grains
Mennella et al. 1995, ApJ. 444, p288

Amorphous – crystalline phase transition in silicates
Brucato et al. AandA, 348, p101.

Mass absorption coefficient, K, of Mg-rich pyroxene as produced and after thermal annealing at 800 °C for various time lags (Brucato et al. 1999).

UV irradiation and atom bombardment of dust analogues

UV source: Ly alpha photons produced by microwave discharge of H2.
Calibrated UV flux
UV flux measured during sample irradiation

H atom source: Microwave dissociation of H2
Atom temperature controllable between 80 and 300 K
Sample temperature 12-300 K

Analytical techniques : IR spectroscopy (2-20 mm)
Mass spectroscopy (1-200 amu)


Formation of CO and CO2 by UV irradiation of hydrogenated carbon grains covered with a water ice layer
Mennella et al. 2006, ApJ. 643, p923

Molecular hydrogen formation by abstraction of H atoms chemisorbed in hydrogenated carbon grains
Mennella 2008, ApJ, 684, L25

Activation of the 2883 cm-1 (3.47 mm) band after exposure to H atoms of nano-sized carbon grains covered with a water ice layer at 12 K.

Contact persons

Luigi Colangeli
Tel.: +39 081 5575520 (work)
Tel.: +39 081 5786393 (home)
Tel.: +39 335 531 4349 (cellular)
Fax: +39 081 5575562

Practicalities of visitors
(help with travel and accommodation, access keys and passes etc.):
Romilda Cozzolino
Tel.: +39 081 5575500 (work)
Fax: +39 081 5575562

Alternative contact:
Vito Mennella
Tel.: +39 081 5575438-543 (work)
Tel.: +39 081 7430863 (home)
Tel.: +39 339 1358829 (cellular)
Fax: +39 081 456710

Administrative contact:
Filomena Bencivenga
Tel.: +39 081 5575512 (work)
Fax: +39 081 5575562

Technical staff contact:
Sergio Inarta
Tel.: +39 081 5575540 (work)

User Access

Facility address:

INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte
Salita Moiariello 16, 80131 Napoli, Italy


Guest-house in OAC is available on request for limited time staying depending on availability.

In Naples there are a large number of hotels and bed and breakfast for accommodations.

Very close to the Observatory (5-10 minutes walking distance) there is the Hotel Villa Capodimonte (http://www.villacapodimonte.it/)

How to reach the Facility

From the airport
15-20 minutes by taxi. Alternatively take a bus (Alibus or 3S) with stop at Piazza Garibaldi.

From Piazza Garibaldi:
take the bus R2 (in Piazza close to the equestrian statue) with stop at S. Carlo theatre; then the bus R4 with stop at the "regresso" of Capodimonte (the first crossing facing the walls of the Capodimonte park). Walk 5-10 minutes up to the entrance of the park (Portas Grande). Take the road in front of it.

With the train
Stop at Napoli Centrale or Piazza Garibaldi. Then 15-20 minutes by taxi. Alternatively take the bus descrived previously in the Sect. “From Piazza Garibaldi”

By car
Tangenziale, exit 6 "Capodimonte“; drive up to the round terrace and cover it entirely taking the left in order to go up again on the opposite side of the same road. At the traffic lights turn right. After 500 m turn right again at the first road on the right (just in front of the entrance of Capodimonte Park). In 100 m you can reach the entrance of the Observatory.

For information on the Europlanet TNA programme contact:

Professor N J Mason, Department of Physics and Astronomy, The Open University, Walton Hall. Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA
Email (preferred method of contact)


Print this page

Last updated:26 March 2010