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Juno Discovers Mars’ Dust Storms Fill Solar System

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posted on Mar, 9 2021 @ 10:08 PM

Zodiacal light, a faint column of light sometimes seen in the pre-dawn or after-dusk night sky, is caused by sunlight reflected toward Earth by a cloud of tiny dust particles orbiting the Sun. Astronomers have long thought that the dust is brought into the inner solar system by a few of the asteroid and comet families that venture in from afar.

But now, a team of Juno scientists argues that Mars may be the culprit. They first published their finding online on Nov. 11, 2020, in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.

As Juno flew through the cloud of dust particles on its way to Jupiter, lots of particles collided with Juno's solar panels, creating microscopic debris that was captured by Juno's star tracking cameras. Using this, scientists were able to track the distribution of dust particles along Juno's path.

They found that the majority of dust impacts were recorded between Earth and the asteroid belt, with the outer edge being just beyond Mars. Earth and Jupiter serve as gravitational barriers that stop the particles from going beyond those boundaries.

The profound influence of the gravity barrier indicates that the dust particles are in a nearly circular orbit around the Sun, Jørgensen said. “And the only object we know of in almost circular orbit around 2 AU is Mars, so the natural thought is that Mars is a source of this dust,” he said.

While there is good evidence now that Mars, the dustiest planet we know of, is the source of the zodiacal light, Jørgensen and his colleagues cannot yet explain how the dust could have escaped the grip of Martian gravity. They hope other scientists will help them.

In the meantime, the researchers note that finding the true distribution and density of dust particles in the solar system will help engineers design spacecraft materials that can better withstand dust impacts. Knowing the precise distribution of dust may also guide the design of flight paths for future spacecraft in order to avoid the highest concentration of particles. Tiny particles traveling at such high velocities can gouge up to 1,000 times their mass from a spacecraft.

Serendipitous Juno Spacecraft Detections Shatter Ideas About Origin of Zodiacal Light

posted on Mar, 9 2021 @ 11:36 PM
This means that we don't have to worry about biological contamination from return trips from Mars? Anything that can survive the conditions of space has already made it to Earth with the dust.

posted on Mar, 10 2021 @ 12:10 AM
a reply to: wildespace

Thanks! You've just confirmed an idea I had years ago that Mars contaminates Earth so to speak. I remember having arguments with others concerning Cross contamination between Earth and Mars as it relates to the exploration of Mars. My argument was that Earth is constantly affected by Mars rocks and dust so why shouldn't we be able to go there and explore when there's already Martian DNA affecting us here on Earth...?

posted on Mar, 10 2021 @ 02:06 AM
a reply to: lostbook

What DNA ? Is there to compare?
There is ZERO evidence of Mars ever having life on it . let alone DNA being contaminated with earth . The dust does nothing . What is Martian DNA ? It is literally a figment of your imagination .

posted on Mar, 10 2021 @ 08:40 AM
a reply to: wildespace
If it is Martian dust, they would eventually need to explain how it could have escaped Martian gravity. That's pretty cool if it did, or it might even be something else, if it didn't. It's interesting either way.

originally posted by: beyondknowledge
This means that we don't have to worry about biological contamination from return trips from Mars? Anything that can survive the conditions of space has already made it to Earth with the dust.
Ever see "shooting stars" at night? They are typically dust particles, maybe up to the size of a grain of sand, that burn up in Earth's atmosphere, when they reach very high temperature from their friction with trying to travel through the atmosphere at such a high speed. Life forms we know of probably wouldn't survive on a dust particle through that process.

Larger chunks that were likely knocked off the martian surface by meteor impacts will also get very hot as they enter the Earth's atmosphere, but if they are big enough, more than ashes can remain, like the famous ALH84001 meteorite from Mars that was claimed to possibly contain fossilized traces of ancient Martian life.

"Return trips from Mars" that don't go through the process of turning into a "fireball" as they enter Earth's atmosphere would be missing a potential sterilization that such a fireball would involve. I don't know what the interior temperature of ALH84001 reached as the outside was vaporizing to ashes, but my guess would be it might be small enough to have got pretty hot inside, maybe hot enough to sterilize any living organisms.

Anyway I think the bigger concern is going the other way, Earth contaminating Mars. We want to know if Mars has (or had) life, so it would be a shame if we destroyed the opportunity to research that because we contaminated Mars with Earth biology that started growing on Mars, and that's what shows up in our life-detection experiments.

edit on 2021310 by Arbitrageur because: clarification

posted on Mar, 10 2021 @ 10:05 AM
a reply to: seedofchucky

I am speaking on what I've heard about some Earth dust being dead human skin cells. Given with this info, It makes sense to me that some Martian dust is Martian dead skin cells. And just because we haven't been told or shown that there's life on Mars doesn't mean that it's not there. There still has been no exploration of the Martian caves or underground areas. There's probable water sources underground so that's probably where the life is.

Salt water flows on Mars today.

edit on 10-3-2021 by lostbook because: paragraph edit

edit on 10-3-2021 by lostbook because: Paragraph edit

posted on Mar, 10 2021 @ 01:33 PM
a reply to: wildespace

Ii think their hypothesis is off only because some of that dust has to be from mercury.
Think about it mercury being so close to the sun the solar winds are ripping on it constantly.

If they incorporated mercury into the scenario I think they would be correct.

Thanks for the info.

posted on Mar, 10 2021 @ 04:21 PM
So it appears we have settled that microscopic particulates can be pushed into orbit within the solar system. How much longer until we discuss the movement of genetic material, or entire microscopic creatures, into orbit? I get that the Earth has more to keep it from leaving the planet, but you'd still expect the law of averages to push out small amounts from windstorms, tornados, hurricanes, etc.

Wonder if DNA was ever able to survive on Jovian moons?

That Jupiter corrals the dust is interesting as well, and would speak to whatever happens beyond the Jovian system being of less interest. Still...out of trillions of particles, you'd expect that within the Oort cloud you fill find some dust. Likely beyond the solar system, trailing behind us, for other systems to pick up as they orbit through.

Very interesting article. Thanks for sharing.


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