Straospheric Dust Samples

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Stratospheric Dust Samples

WB57F aircraft, one of several planes used for Cosmic Dust collection in the
stratosphere.WB57F aircraft, one of several planes used for Cosmic Dust collection in the stratosphere.

The majority of stratospheric collections are made at random times. However, ever since Dermott and Liou (1994) proposed that there should be enhancements in certain types of asteroidal dust at certain times of the year, we have endeavored to build up a collection of collection surfaces targeted at different times throughout the year. Typically, these take the form of collectors, both large and small, flown for one calendar month only. Inspection of our holdings of collection surfaces will reveal many of these surfaces. We have made targeted collections of the stratosphere in attempts to collect dust from specific comets (Tempel-Tuttle, Giabobini-Zinner, and Grigg-Skjellerup), as well as dust from asteroid families. We consider these efforts to be long shots, since the enhancements of the comet dust over background extraterrestrial material are not terribly large. Still we have made a special effort to provide these collection surfaces to the community, since the potential payoffs from successfully locating comet dust from a known source are so great. We will continue to attempt to collect dust from specific solar system bodies, as opportunities arise.


  • Dermott S.F. and Liou J.C. (1994) Detection of asteroidal dust particles from known families in near-Earth orbits. In Analysis of Interplanetary Dust (Eds. M. Zolensky, T. Wilson, F. Rietmeijer and G. Flynn), American Institute of Physics, New York, pp. 13-22.
  • Love S. and Brownlee D. (1998) Heating and Thermal Transformation of Micrometeoroids Entering the Earth's Atmosphere, Icarus 89, 26.
  • Messenger S. (2002) Opportunities for the Stratospheric Collection of Dust from Short-Period Comets. Meteoritics and Planetary Science 37, 1491.
  • Rietmeijer F., Pfeffer M., Chizmadia L., Macy B., Fischer T., Zolensky M., Warren J., and Jenniskens P. (2003) Leonid dust spheres captured during the 2002 storm? Lunar and Planetary Science XXXIV, The Lunar and Planetary Institute.