SDC - Student Dust Counter
The Student Dust Counter (SDC) will count and measure the sizes of dust particles along New Horizons' entire trajectory, which covers regions of interplanetary space never before sampled. Such dust particles are created by comets shedding material and Kuiper Belt Objects colliding with one another. The SDC is managed and was built primarily by students at the University of Colorado in Boulder, with supervision from professional space scientists.
The SDC's sensors are thin, permanently polarized PVDF plastic films that generate an electrical signal when dust particles penetrate their surface. The SDC has a total sensitive surface area of ~0.1 m^2, comprising 12 separate film patches, each 14.2 cm x 6.5 cm, mounted onto the top surface of a support panel. In addition, there are two reference sensor patches mounted on the backside of the detector support panel, protected from any dust impacts. These reference sensors, identical to the top surface sensors, are used to monitor the various background noise levels, from mechanical vibrations or cosmic ray hits.
The SDC description was was adapted from http://lasp.colorado.edu/sdc/, Horanyi et al. (2007), and Weaver et al. (2007).
The SDC Tabs
The tabs associated with this page describe the SDC data files and how to obtain and use them.