From data collected by Ulysses spacecraft, more than 900 particles were collected allowing researchers to extract the most detailed information on mass, size, and flight direction of interstellar dust so far. Computer simulations helped to understand the various contributions of the Sun and the interplanetary field and to separate them.
Perpetually our solar system moves through the Milky Way. For approximately 100 000 years it has been passing through the Local , a cloud of interstellar matter, measuring about 30 light-years in diameter. Microscopic dust particles from this cloud make their way into the interior of our solar system. For researchers, they are messengers from the depths of space and provide basic information about our more distant cosmic home.
In the past, several spacecraft have identified and characterized these “newcomers”. These spacecraft include Galileo and Cassini, which traveled to the gas planets Jupiter and Saturn, as well as the mission Stardust, which in 2006 returned captured interstellar dust particles to Earth.