THE FOREST, Texas– Grains of dust from the edge of the planetary system might be discovering their method to Earth. And NASA might currently have a handful of the particles, scientists report.

With an approximated 40,000 lots of area dust settling in Earth’s stratosphere every year, the U.S. area company has actually been flying balloon and airplane objectives considering that the 1970 s to gather samples. The particles, which can be simply a couple of 10s of micrometers broad, have actually long been believed to come mainly from comets and asteroids closer to the sun than Jupiter ( SN Online: 3/19/19).

However it ends up that a few of the particles might have originated from the Kuiper Belt, a remote area of icy things orbiting beyond Neptune, NASA planetary researcher Lindsay Keller stated March 21 at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Studying those particles might expose what far-off, strange things in the Kuiper Belt are made from, and maybe how they formed( SN Online: 3/18/19).

” We’re not going to get an objective out to a Kuiper Belt challenge really gather [dust] samples anytime quickly,” Keller stated. “However we have samples of these things in the dizzying dust collections here at NASA.”

One method to discover a dust grain’s house is to penetrate the particle for tiny tracks where heavy charged particles from solar flares punched through. The more tracks a grain has, the longer it has actually roamed in area– and the most likely it stemmed far from Earth, states Keller, who operates at the Johnson Area Center in Houston.

However to figure out specifically for how long a dust grain has actually invested taking a trip area, Keller initially required to understand the number of tracks a grain generally gets annually. Determining that rate needed a sample with a recognized age and recognized track density– requirements satisfied just by moon rocks revived on the Apollo objectives. However the last track-rate quote was performed in 1975 and with less accurate instruments than are readily available today.

dust grain tracks