The Student Dust Counter is an instrument aboard the NASA New Horizons mission to Pluto, launched in 2006. As it travels to Pluto and beyond, SDC will provide information on the dust that strikes the spacecraft during its 14-year journey across the solar system. These observations will advance our understanding of the origin and evolution of our own solar system, as well as help scientists study planet formation in dust disks around other stars.
In this lesson, students explore the SDC data interface to establish any trends in the dust distribution in the solar system. Students record the number of dust particles, "hits," recorded by the instrument and the average mass of the particles in a given region.