Surveying the Building Blocks of the Solar System

Saturday, November 30, 2019 - 12:27 in Astronomy & Space

This blog post originated in the 2018 Science Mission Directorate Science and Technology Report. PROJECT High-Performance In Situ Dust Analyzer (Hyperdust) KEY POINTS Hyperdust’s unique ion optics design combines the ability to provide high-performance composition measurements with the aperture that is needed to detect a statistically significant number of particles in space over a standard mission duration of a few years. The Hyperdust prototype instrument’s ion optics. (Image credit: Tibor Balint) The history of the formation and evolution of the Solar System is encoded in the compositional diversity of its small bodies, including comets and asteroids, and the solid material that was the source of it all: interstellar dust. But there are simply too many small bodies to be visited and investigated individually. Instead, what if scientists could survey the tiny particles (microsamples) that originate from these bodies and are delivered near Earth’s orbit by dynamic processes? The High-Performance In Situ Dust Analyzer (Hyperdust) Project is developing a...

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