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The Student Dust Counter on the New Horizons Mission


The Student Dust Counter (SDC) experiment of the New Horizons Mission is an impact dust detector to map the spatial and size distribution of dust along the trajectory of the spacecraft across the solar system. The sensors are thin, permanently polarized polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) plastic films that generate an electrical signal when dust particles penetrate their surface. SDC is capable of detecting particles with masses m>10−12 g, and it has a total sensitive surface area of about 0.1 m2, pointing most of the time close to the ram direction of the spacecraft. SDC is part of the Education and Public Outreach (EPO) effort of this mission. The instrument was designed, built, tested, integrated, and now is operated by students.

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Correspondence to M. Horányi.

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Horányi, M., Hoxie, V., James, D. et al. The Student Dust Counter on the New Horizons Mission. Space Sci Rev 140, 387–402 (2008).

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  • Interplanetary dust
  • Instrumentation
  • Education and public outreach