I have begun a Science Writing MOOC from the University of Leeds. This is one early assignment.
This man studies stardust.
I’m talking to Professor John Plane who studies cosmic dust.
That’s the fine dust from meteorites that falls down on us, everyday. This dust affects communications fertilizes oceans and can cool climate. We can collect the dust, it’s a science experiment, find a rain spout with sediment, collect the dust, use a magnet to separate the metallic pieces, study under a microscope. That’s cosmic dust.
Professor Plane has developed a new instrument to help study this dust and answer questions, how it impacts Earth and everything. Called the Meteoric Ablation Simulator (MASI) it assesses how the different elements vaporize as the meteorites fall through the atmosphere.
Up to now, the theory of vaporization as meteorites fall has not been experimentally calibrated. Now it can be. David Banes, who works with Plane explained, “Only relatively recent advances in computing hardware and software have allowed us to address the precise timing and substantial computational requirements needed for MASI. During a particle entry simulation that lasts about 12 seconds, we want to take 6,000 measurements while we are … flash-heating the particle with real-time feedback.”
Interesting as this is, it is leading to better understanding of the atmosphere, meteor fall and; of all things, better jet and rocket engines.
(Photo is a stock image)