Dust Measurements in the Coma of Comet 81P/Wild 2 by the Dust Flux Monitor Instrument

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We present measurements of the dust particle flux and mass distribution from the Stardust Dust Flux Monitor Instrument (DFMI) throughout the flyby of comet 81P/Wild 2. In the particle mass regime from 10−14 to 10−7 kilograms, the spacecraft encountered regions of intense swarms of particles, together with bursts of activity corresponding to clouds of particles only a few hundred meters across. This fine-scale structure can be explained by particle fragmentation. We estimate that 2800 ± 500 particles of diameter 15 micrometers or larger impacted the aerogel collectors, the largest being ∼6 × 10−7 kilograms, which dominates the total collected mass.

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