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Based on our projections of technology trends we expect that a MEMS dust particle would fall at about 3 cm/sec, so that a particle released at 2000 feet would stay aloft for about 5 1/2 hours (possibly longer if it rides thermal currents).

Even without recharging by solar cells, in continuous operation of sensing, computing, and transmitting data, this device would last for about an hour. This continuous operating mode is for use when the particle finds itself in the vicinity of an interesting event. On the other hand, in sample mode, where it just wakes up roughly 1% of the time and takes a look around to see if anything interesting is happening, a MEMS dust particle would have enough power to operate for more than 4 days.