Mars throws out dust for the zodiacal light

The team of astronomers suggested that Mars, and not asteroids or comets, is throwing dust into interplanetary space, which creates zodiacal light.

The authors of the work have developed four star trackers. These onboard cameras capture the sky every quarter of a second.

In the pictures, the authors saw dust particles that crashed into the Juno mission at a speed of about 16 thousand km per hour. They chipped off submillimeter pieces of the spacecraft.

The authors of the work drew attention to the fact that most of the dust collisions were recorded between the Earth and the asteroid belt, with discontinuities in the distribution associated with the influence of Jupiter’s gravity.

Until now, scientists have been unable to measure the distribution of these dust particles in space. Dedicated dust detectors had limited collection areas and therefore limited sensitivity. They basically counted more abundant and much smaller dust particles from interstellar space.

As for the outer edge, located about two astronomical units (AU) from the Sun (1 AU-distance between the Earth and the Sun), it ends just behind Mars. The only known object in an almost circular orbit is Mars, so only it can be the source of this dust.

While there is now compelling evidence that Mars, the dustiest planet we know, is also the source of the zodiacal light, the authors still cannot explain exactly how the dust could have escaped from the grip of Martian gravity. Work in this direction continues.

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Alexandr Ivanov earned his Licentiate Engineer in Systems and Computer Engineering from the Free International University of Moldova. Since 2013, Alexandr has been working as a freelance web programmer.
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Alexandr Ivanov

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