Planetary Science by Space Missions
Planetary science with cosmic dust
Dust in space transports information about the composition of distant worlds over space and time. These worlds can lie in our planetary neighborhood, like moon surfaces, or far away, like our galactic environment. The dust grains are samples from their parent bodies and by measuring the composition and other properties of cosmic dust particles with a space craft we infer properties of these parent bodies.
Dust emitting bodies in our solar system are comets and active moons (like Enceladus at Saturn or Io at Jupiter). Moreover, any atmosphereless body in the solar system continuously emits dust into space created by impacts of meteoroids and micro- meteoroids. Good examples for bodies where this kind of passive dust emission can be used to learn about the surface composition of the parent body are the Earth's moon, asteroids, or Jupiter’s icy moons Europa and Ganymede. In addition to these interplanetary dust sources, interstellar dust is crossing our solar system. By analysing these particles we can directly probe even more distant sources in our Galaxy.