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Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics
New Horizons: Student Dust Counter


Dust density in the solar system

A computer simulation of the density of dust throughout the solar system.
(Courtesy J.-C. Liou, H.A. Zook/Astronomical Journal 1999)

The Student Dust Counter has three main goals:

1) To map dust distribution and density. Dust is not spread evenly throughout space; it varies in density throughout the solar system.

2) To help scientists understand variation in where different-sized particles are located in the solar system.

3) To determine how fast the Kuiper Belt produces dust. The small, icy bodies in the Kuiper Belt are constantly colliding and causing little bits of each other to chip off. Through additional collisions over time, these chips are ground to dust; scientists want to understand how quickly this process happens.