As designed, the fan-shaped Student Dust Counter has a radius of about 16 inches and thickness of only about one-eighth of an inch. At roughly four pounds, the honeycombed aluminum structure will be covered with a thin, plastic-like film and mounted to the front of the New Horizons spacecraft. A flex circuit connects the detector to a small electronics box.
Microscopic-sized space-dust particles hitting the disc would create unique electrical signals, allowing researchers to infer the mass and speed of each particle.
The Student Dust Counter team at the University of Colorado-Boulder includes (from left) Anselm Fernandez, Flemming Christensen, Chelsey Bryant and student project manager Gene Holland. Mihaly Horanyi, an associate professor in CU-Boulder's Physics Department and a research associate in the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, is the Student Dust Counter project's faculty mentor.