Modeling Meteoroid Impacts on the Juno Spacecraft

Petr Pokorný, Jamey R. Szalay, Mihály Horányi, Marc J. Kuchner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Events which meet certain criteria from star-tracker images on board the Juno spacecraft have been proposed to be due to interplanetary dust particle impacts on its solar arrays. These events have been suggested to be caused by particles with diameters larger than 10 μm. Here, we compare the reported event rates to expected dust-impact rates using dynamical meteoroid models for the four most abundant meteoroid/dust populations in the inner solar system. We find that the dust-impact rates predicted by dynamical meteoroid models are not compatible with either the Juno observations in terms of the number of star-tracker events per day, or with the variations of dust flux on Juno’s solar panels with time and position in the solar system. For example, the rate of star-tracker events on Juno’s antisunward surfaces is the largest during a period in which Juno is expected to experience the peak impact fluxes on the opposite, sunward hemisphere. We also investigate the hypothesis of dust leaving the Martian Hill sphere originating either from the surface of Mars itself or from one of its moons. We do not find such a hypothetical source to be able to reproduce the star-tracker event-rate variations observed by Juno. We conclude that the star-tracker events observed by Juno are unlikely to be the result of instantaneous impacts from the zodiacal cloud.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14
JournalPlanetary Science Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Geophysics


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