Preface

This joint IAU and COSPAR Colloquium, held at the campus of The University of Kent at Canterbury from April 10 to 14, 2000 brought together 129 scientists from 18 countries. It was a continuation of the tradition of holding meetings at regular intervals of a few years in order to review the progress in a broad range of disciplines that are relevant to the study of interplanetary dust and to help to unify progress made through observations, both in situ and from the ground, theory and experimentation. The series of meetings started in Honolulu, Hawaii (USA) in 1967, followed by Heidelberg (Germany) in 1975, then Ottowa (Canada) in 1979, Marseilles (France) in 1984, Kyoto (Japan) in 1990 with the last being in Gainesville, Florida (USA) in 1995.

Since the Gainesville meeting, there have been dramatic changes in the field resulting from in-situ space experiments, Earth orbiting satellites and ground based observations. The brightest comet since the early years of the twentieth century, comet Hale-Bopp, appeared, giving an invaluable opportunity to see in action one great source of interplanetary dust. Similarly, the Leonid meteor shower has been at its most active since 1966, producing spectacular displays of meteors and allowing for an array of observational techniques, not available in 1966 to be used, while theory has also been refined to a level where very accurate predictions of the timing of meteor storms has become possible. Prior to the meeting we observed a total eclipse of the Sun in SW England and Northern Europe, traditionally a good opportunity to observe the Zodiacal cloud. Our knowledge of the Near-Earth Asteroid population has also increased dramatically, with the increased study arising from the heightened awareness of the danger to Earth from such bodies. Extrasolar planets have been discovered since the last meeting and it is recognised that we can now study interplanetary dust in other Planetary Systems. Since much of the dust observed in such systems is at a distance of order 100 AU from the star, this brings into focus the production of dust in the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt of our own system. Recent years have seen a recognition of the importance of dust originating outside our own system, that is now present in the near-Earth environment. As is always the case when great strides take place observationally, much theoretical work follows, and the same is true in this instance.

While data about the interplanetary medium from Venus to Jupiter was beginning to be available at the last meeting, the data from both Galileo and Ulysses have now been more fully analysed, with a corresponding increase in our knowledge. Since then however information from SOHO and MSX have become available, giving new insight into the dust population close to the Sun. In addition, ISO allowed us to study the radiation emitted from dust (as opposed to its more normal obscuring properties). There are also new space missions in various stages of planning, Particularly STARDUST and ROSETTA, that will produce a whole new dimension to our knowledge of dust production in the Solar system.

The scientific Organizing Committee was responsible for defining the scientific content and selecting the invited reviews. These proceedings contain 13 invited reviews and invited contributions, and 46 contributed papers. The papers reflect the thematic approach adopted at the meeting, with a flow outwards (from meteors in the atmosphere, through zodiacal dust observation and interplanetary dust, to extra solar planetary systems) and returning (via the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt and comets) to the Earth, with laboratory studies of physical and chemical processes and the study of extra-terrestrial samples.

Simon Green, Iwan Williams, Tony McDonnell, Neil McBride.

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