Open Access

Mars Dust Counter

  • Eduard Igenbergs1Email author,
  • Sho Sasaki2,
  • Ralf Münzenmayer1,
  • Hideo Ohashi3,
  • Georg Färber4,
  • Franz Fischer4,
  • Akira Fujiwara5,
  • Albrecht Glasmachers6,
  • Eberhard Grün7,
  • Yoshimi Hamabe2,
  • Heinrich Iglseder8,
  • Dieter Klinge9,
  • Hideaki Miyamoto2,
  • Tadashi Mukai10,
  • Walter Naumann1,
  • Ken-ichi Nogami11,
  • Gerhard Schwehm9,
  • Håkan Svedhem9 and
  • Kazuo Yamakoshi12
Earth, Planets and Space201450:BF03352110

DOI: 10.1186/BF03352110

Received: 31 July 1997

Accepted: 23 January 1998

Published: 6 June 2014


In order to unveil the presence and characteristics of Martian dust ring/torus, Mars Dust Counter (MDC) is aboard ISAS’s spacecraft PLANET-B, which will be launched in 1998 summer and investigate the upper atmosphere and surrounding environment of Mars between 1999 and 2001. MDC PLANET-B is an improved version of impact-ionization dust detectors aboard HITEN and BREMSAT. It weighs only 730 g with the sensor aperture area of 140 cm2. To improve signal to noise ratios and to precisely determine the risetime of signals, a neutral target channel is added independent of ion and electron target channels. Detectable velocity (v) range is between 1 km/s and more than 70 km/s, which will cover all possible dust clans: circummartian (low v), interplanetary (mid v), and interstellar (high v) particles. Measurable mass range is 5 × 10−15 and 10−10 g at v = 10 km/s. Since PLANET-B takes an elliptic retrograde orbit around Mars, MDC can investigate particles from Phobos and Deimos with relative velocity higher than 1 km/s. Therefore, MDC can clarify the presence of a confined dust ring along Phobos’ orbit and an extended dust torus along Deimos’ orbit, and it may answer whether these ring and torus are self-sustained or not. Since the nominal operation of PLANET-B is longer than one Martian year, MDC may detect predicted seasonal variation of the ring/torus structure.