Some Doubts about the Earth's Dust Cloud

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Science  09 Sep 1966:
Vol. 153, Issue 3741, pp. 1242-1246
DOI: 10.1126/science.153.3741.1242


Considerable doubt is cast on the validity of past satellite measurements of micrometeoroid fluxes in which piezoelectric microphones have been used as detectors. Data have been obtained from satellite and laboratory experiments which show that the microphone crystals emit noise when subject to slowly varying temperatures. The rate of noise is consistent with past flight data which have previously been interpreted on the basis of micrometeoroid impacts. These measurements have given rise to the theory that the earth is surrounded by a cloud of dust, although no satisfactory mechanism has yet been found to explain this apparent phenomenon. On the basis of the results reported here, it now appears that whether or not a concentration of dust exists in the vicinity of the earth, the data from satellite microphone measurements should not be used to support such a hypothesis.