South-North and Radial Traverses through the Interplanetary Dust Cloud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Identical in situ dust detectors are flown on board the Galileo and Ulysses spacecraft. They record impacts of micrometeoroids in the ecliptic plane at heliocentric distances from 0.7 to 5.4 AU and in a plane almost perpendicular to the ecliptic from -79 deg to +79 deg ecliptic latitude. The combination of both Ulysses and Galileo measurements yields information about the radial and latitudinal distributions of micron- and sub-micron-sized dust in the Solar System. Two types of dust particles were found to dominate the dust flux in interplanetary space. Interplanetary micrometeoroids covering a wide mass range from 10^-16 to 10^-6 g are recorded mostly inside 3 AU and at latitudes below 30 deg. Interstellar grains with masses between 10^-14 and 10^-12 g have been positively identified outside 3 AU near the ecliptic plane and outside 1.8 AU at high ecliptic latitudes (>50 deg). Interstellar grains move on hyperbolic trajectories through the planetary system and constitute the dominant dust flux (1.5 x 10^-4 m^-2 sec^-1) in the outer Solar System and at high ecliptic latitudes. To compare and analyze the Galileo and Ulysses data sets, a new model is developed based on J. Geophys. Res. 98, 17029-17048, Divine's (1993, ``five populations of interplanetary meteoroids'' model. Both models describe the interplanetary meteoroid environment in terms of dust populations on distinct orbits. Taking into account the measured velocities and the effect of radiation pressure on small particles (described by the ratio of radiation pressure force to gravity, beta), we define four populations of meteoroids on elliptical orbits and one population on hyperbolic orbit that can fit the micrometeoroid flux observed by Galileo and Ulysses. Micrometeoroids with masses greater than 10^-10 g and negligible radiation pressure (beta = 0) orbit the Sun on low to moderately eccentric orbits and with low inclinations (<=30 deg). Populations of smaller particles with mean masses of 10^-11 g (beta = 0.3), 10^-13 g (beta = 0.8), and 5 x 10^-15 g (beta = 0.3), respectively, have components with high eccentricities and have increasingly wider inclination distributions with decreasing mass. Similarities among the orbit distributions of the small particle populations on bound orbits suggest that all are genetically related and are part of an overall micrometeoroid complex that prevails in the inner Solar System. The high-eccentricity component of the small particle populations may actually be beta-meteoroids which are not well characterized by our measurements. Our modeling suggests further that the interstellar dust flux is not reduced at Ulysses' perihelion distance (1.3 AU) and that it contributes about 30% of the total dust flux observed there.


  • E. Grun
  • P. Staubach
  • M. Baguhl
  • D. P. Hamilton
  • H. A. Zook
  • S. Dermott
  • B. A. Gustafson
  • H. Fechtig
  • J. Kissel
  • D. Linkert
  • G. Linkert
  • R. Srama
  • M. S. Hanner
  • C. Polanskey
  • M. Horanyi
  • Bertil Anders Lindblad
  • I. Mann
  • J. A. M. McDonnell
  • G. E. Morfill
  • G. Schwehm
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-288
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Publication categoryResearch