image 24-October-2017 00:42:02

Interstellar dust at Saturn

Date: 14 April 2016
Satellite: Cassini
Copyright: ESA; dust grain inset: NASA/JPL; Saturn image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

The Cosmic Dust Analyser on the international Cassini spacecraft has detected the faint but distinct signature of dust coming from outside our Solar System, from the local interstellar cloud: an almost empty bubble of gas and dust we are travelling through with a distinct direction and speed.

This graphic summarises the location of Saturn, and the Solar System, with respect to the local interstellar cloud, and our place in the Milky Way galaxy.

In the final image an artist's impression of the Cassini spacecraft is shown (not to scale) with Saturn. The dust grain shown is not a true representative of what the Cosmic Dust Analyser detects, as the interstellar dust grains are destroyed upon impact; what is shown here is an interplanetary dust particle, likely originating from a comet or asteroid, collected in Earth's atmosphere, but shown here for illustrative purposes.

Last Update: 14 April 2016

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