A team of scientists at the University of Glasgow seem to think they're getting closer to sending smart dust where no smart dust has gone before, recently showing off their progress at the National Astronomy Meeting, the BCC reports. According to the university's Dr. John Barker, the pint-sized particles would be able to be crammed into the nose cone of a space craft and let loose into a planet's atmosphere, with the wind carrying them along over great distances. They wouldn't be leaving everything to chance, however, with the dust particles planned to be coated in a plastic sheath that could change shape when given a jolt of electricity, which should alter its course. What's more, the entire swarm of dust particles would also form a mesh network, which the scientists say could even let 'em engage in a little formation flying. Of course, they've yet to actually get their dust down to the size of dust, although they're confident that pace of miniaturization will take care of that little problem in "coming decades."

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Scientists tout "smart dust" for planetary exploration