Student Dust Counter Status Report: The First 50au

Edwin Bernardoni, Mihály Horányi, Alex Doner, Marcus Piquette, Jamey R. Szalay, Andrew R. Poppe, David James, Silvan Hunziker, Veerle Sterken, Peter Strub, Cathy Olkin, Kelsi N. Singer, John Spencer, Alan Stern, Harold Weaver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The Venetia Burney Student Dust Counter (SDC) is an in situ dust detector on board the New Horizons spacecraft measuring the interplanetary dust particle (IDP) distribution for grains with mass m > 10−12 g. SDC provides a near-continuous measure of the interplanetary dust environment, with recent results spanning beyond 50 au. This coverage includes the Edgeworth–Kuiper Belt (EKB), suggested by numerical models to be the dominant source of IDP in the outer solar system. Here we present the updated dust density distribution to 50 au and compare estimated flux values to existing theoretical models. SDC observes peak dust flux and densities near 42 au, and we expect a decay with increasing heliocentric distance. Based on SDC measurements, we also discuss the effects of IDP generation, transport, and loss on the evolution of the surfaces of EKB objects, the continual intermixing of their surface material, and the general tendency to homogenize their spectral properties. Continued SDC measurements remain critical for revealing the large-scale structure of the EKB and to guide the interpretation of dust disks around other stars. Additionally, we consider the potential of an interstellar dust (ISD) and “outer” Kuiper Belt contribution to SDC measurements and its effect on anticipated SDC flux values beyond 50 au, and we show that the inclusion of either source to the predicted model results in a noticeable deviation in anticipated SDC measurements beyond 50 au. Current and future SDC measurements also serve to constrain the relative contribution of ISD to SDC’s flux and density estimates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number69
JournalPlanetary Science Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Student Dust Counter Status Report: The First 50au'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this