passenger aircraft is silhouetted against the rising moon in New Delhi on May 7, 2009.
Credits: REUTERS/B Mathur
A new study is trying to gauge the impact of tiny particles from space, as they collect on our Earth. But the head of that research project is pushing back against reports cosmic dust -- shed from a universe in constant motion -- could explain environmental changes.
"Does cosmic dust play a role in climate change?" asks a The Daily Galaxy blog, echoing headlines in Europe.
Each day, dust and meteorites move into our atmosphere -- anywhere from five to 300 tonnes of it.
But John Plane, head researcher from the University of Leeds in the U.K., says as they try to pin-down the exact quantity, he thinks one thing is certain.
"The answer is no, in the sense of impacting the global temperature rise in the past century," he tells QMI Agency.
Plane says the particles may interact with manmade conditions in our clouds, but we can't blame Earth's changing environment on bad galactic housekeeping.
"It is certainly not relevant to the warming that has occurred in the last 100 years."
Some of the dust Plane is trying to track can be smaller than you can see with your eye -- most particles are about 100 microns.
How small is that? A grain of beach sand is anywhere from 100 to 2,000 microns. And the period at the end of this sentence is an estimated 615 microns.
They enter our atmosphere at up to 248,000 km/h, but are too small to appear as shooting stars.
But, like dust on your coffee table, the particles can quickly add up.
By one estimate, if you were to sweep up all the debris between the sun and Jupiter, you could mould a new moon, 25 km across.
Plane and his team hope to evaluate the total impact on our world of a daily dusting that few even know is happening.