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UNIVERSITY OF KENT IS HOST FOR AN INTERNATIONAL COLLOQUIUM ON DUST IN THE SOLAR SYSTEM AND OTHER PLANETS

Last Updated on Saturday, 08 May 2010 14:26
Published on Tuesday, 22 February 2005 00:00

Astronomers from all over the world will be converging on the University of Kent next week (10-14 April 2000) to attend a major international colloquium on interplanetary dust.

The colloquium, which is co-sponsored by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the Committee On Space Research (COSPAR), the Royal Astronomical Society, the University of Kent and Unispace Kent, is the seventh in a series of meetings which began in Hawaii in 1967.

Over the last five years, studies of interplanetary dust have been changed dramatically by in-situ space experiments on the Galileo and Ulysses spacecraft, remote sensing from the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) and ground-based observations of Comet Hale-Bopp. A further flood of new data will soon be available from the Cassini and Stardust spacecraft, from Earth-orbiting satellite observations and from studies of the annual Leonid meteor stream.

At the same time, our knowledge of other potential dust sources has made great strides as new techniques and instrumentation become available. While the NEAR spacecraft orbits near-Earth asteroid Eros, an increased awareness of the danger to our planet from such bodies has led to new observational programmes which are improving scientists' estimates of the population of our cosmic neighbours. Other potential sources of space dust linger in the outer reaches of the Solar System, where astronomers are beginning to uncover millions of icy worlds within the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt.

Finally, with dust disks and extrasolar planets now being discovered almost monthly, astronomers are able, for the first time, to compare our Solar System with other far away star systems. Such comparisons enable scientists to gain new insights into the processes which took place in the dust disk around our Sun some 5 billion years ago.

THE PROGRAMME.
Although space dust is the focus of the meeting, there will not be any time for dust to settle once the colloquium gets under way. The packed programme comprises about 80 scientific papers, as well as dozens of poster presentations, spread over 17 sessions. All aspects of the astronomical study of interplanetary dust are covered. The sessions are, in order of presentation:

Monday 10 April: Meteors. Meteoroid Streams. The Zodiacal Light. Zodiacal Dust.

Tuesday 11 April: The Galileo, Ulysses, Cassini, and Stardust Space Missions.

Wednesday 12 April: Dust in Other Solar Systems. The Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt.

Thursday 13 April: Dust Sources (Comets and Asteroids). Cometary Dust. The Rosetta Mission.
Grain Aggregation and Optical Studies

Friday 14 April: Applications and Links (Laboratory Experiments, Models and Their Implications).
Dust in Earth Orbit. Origins…(Space Dust and the Earth).

HIGHLIGHTS.
Some of the highlights of the meeting are briefly summarised below:

THE LEONID METEOR SHOWER. Monday 10 April.
A number of papers describe results from the 1998 and 1999 appearances of the Leonid meteors. They include:
· LEONID IMPACTS ON THE MOON IN 1999.
A report on results from the impact flashes of Leonid meteoroids on the night side of the Moon during the 1999 return of the shower. Presented by Luis Bellot Rubio (Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias in Spain, and the International Meteor
Organisation).
· THE 1999 LEONID MULTI-INSTRUMENT AIRCRAFT CAMPAIGN.
A report on the November 1999 airborne campaign, sponsored by NASA and USAF, to fly over the Mediterranean and view the Leonid meteor storm from above the clouds. Presented by Peter Jenniskens (SETI Institute, NASA Ames Research Centre).

SPECIAL SESSION ON THE NASA STARDUST MISSION.
Tuesday 11 April. The 4th NASA Discovery Mission, Stardust, was launched on 7 February, 1999. The spacecraft's dust collector has now been deployed and will collect samples of interplanetary material on the journey to Comet Wild-2. On arrival at the comet, samples from its coma will be captured for return to Earth in January 2006 by a direct re-entry capsule. Among those giving presentations are Principal Investigator Donald Brownlee (University of Washington, Seattle, USA), P. Tsou and Martha Hanner (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, USA).

DETECTION OF ELECTRICALLY CHARGED DUST PARTICLES WITH THE CASSINI DUST EXPERIMENT (CDA). Tuesday 11 April.
CDA will spend five years collecting data on interplanetary dust during its odyssey to the planet Saturn. Presentations on how the CDA instrument works and the first results from the experiment will be presented by Siegfried Auer (Basye, Virginia, USA) and Ralf Srama (Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik, Germany).

DUST TELESCOPES: A NEW TOOL FOR DUST RESEARCH.
Tuesday 11 April. A state-of-the-art dust telescope, consisting of an array of parallel mounted dust analysers, is under development. A first application of such an instrument has been proposed to ESA as the Galactic DUNE mission for the analysis of interstellar grains in Earth orbit. Presented by Eberhard Grün (Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik, Germany).

DUST EN ROUTE TO THE GIANT PLANETS AND THE GALILEAN SATELLITES. Tuesday 11 April.
The Galileo and Ulysses spacecraft carry identical highly sensitive impact ionisation dust detectors on board. Both instruments have recorded impacts of micrometeoroids in interplanetary space at heliocentric distances 0.7 to 5.4 AU, and within the Jovian system. Close flybys of the Galilean satellites have revealed that these moons are surrounded by thin, impact-generated, dust clouds. Another tenuous ring of 'big' grains has been detected in the region between the Galilean satellites. Presented by Harald Krüger (Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik, Germany).

THE ROSETTA MISSION TO COMET WIRTANEN.
Thursday 13 April. An overview of the European Space Agency's historic 11-year-long mission to put a spacecraft into orbit around a comet nucleus and release a lander onto its surface. On the way to the comet, Rosetta will fly past two unusual main belt asteroids. Launch is scheduled for January 2003. Presented by Project Scientist Gerhard Schwehm (European Space Agency).

DUST CHARACTERISATION IN THE NEAR EARTH ENVIRONMENT: STATUS AND NEW OPPORTUNITIES. Friday 14 April.
A review of future opportunities to detect meteoroids or space debris with the ESA-Kent real time detector, DEBIE. These include launch this year on the British STRV-1c satellite into a geostationary orbit above the equator, launch into polar orbit on the PROBA satellite, and deployment on the International Space Station. Presented by Neil McBride (University of Kent).

LARGE PARTICLE DETECTION ON MIR SOLAR ARRAYS. (Poster presentation.)
Joint co-operative missions between Shuttle-Mir have provided opportunities to acquire close-up photographic imagery of Mir's solar arrays. These data may be used to study the effects of prolonged exposure to space environments at an altitude 330-360 km and 51.62° inclination, including impact from dust. Imagery has revealed in excess of 50 large surface features on seven of Mir's twelve arrays, suspected of being caused by meteoroid or orbital debris strike. Presented by Mark Herbert (University of Kent )

INTERSTELLAR DUST INFLOW TO THE SOLAR SYSTEM MAPPED BY AMOR. Friday 14 April.
New data from the Advanced Meteor Orbit Radar (AMOR) facility support the idea that some of the meteoroids entering our atmosphere originate outside the Solar System in interstellar space. Presented by Jack Baggaley (University of Canterbury, New Zealand).

BACKGROUND INFORMATION.
The University of Kent has been a focus for studies of the space environment for many years. Apart from analysis of Apollo lunar samples and involvement in the Giotto mission to Comets Halley and Grigg-Skjellerup, the University's Unit for Space Sciences has specialised in research into interplanetary dust. Among the key facilities in the Unit is a microparticle accelerator, in which dust particles can travel at up 200 km/s, and a light gas gun which fires small projectiles at speeds up to 7.5 km/s. Experimental data from these facilities is used to improve understanding of hypervelocity impacts in space, and risks to spacecraft from space debris and meteoroids.

The University is also currently involved in a number of space missions, including Ulysses, Galileo, Stardust, Rosetta, Mars Express and Cassini (with leadership of the Surface Science Package on the Huygens probe which is scheduled to land on the surface of Saturn's moon Titan in 2004). It is also developing a new class of orbital space detector for micrometeoroids, known as Debie.

 

Issued by

Peter Bond, RAS Press Officer (Space Science).
10 Harrier Close, Cranleigh,
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FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE COLLOQUIUM CONTACT:

Dr. John Zarnecki, Unit for Space Sciences,
Physics Laboratory,University of Kent,
Canterbury. KENT
CT2 7NR, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)1227-823237 or (0)1227-823788
Fax: +44 (0)1227-827558 E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES CONTACT:
Posie Bogan or Jane Hardy,
Communications and Development Office,
The Registry, University of Kent,
Canterbury, KENT CT2 7NZ
Tel: 01227-823581 or 823100 Fax: 01227-764464
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. OR This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Abstracts and further information about the meeting are on the Web at:

http://www.ukc.ac.uk/physical-sciences/space/