Volume 630, October 2019
Rosetta mission full comet phase results
|Number of page(s)||11|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||20 September 2019|
Constraining models of activity on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko with Rosetta trajectory, rotation, and water production measurements
Aix-Marseille Université, CNRS, CNES, Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, Marseille, France
2 Earth and Planetary Observation Centre, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling, UK
3 Physikalisches Institut, Universität Bern, Sidlerstrasse 5, 3012 Berne, Switzerland
4 Deutsches Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt (DLR), Institut für Planetenforschung, Rutherfordstraße 2, 12489 Berlin, Germany
5 Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung, Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 3, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
6 International Space Science Institute, Hallerstrasse 6, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
Accepted: 8 January 2019
Aims. We use four observational data sets, mainly from the Rosetta mission, to constrain the activity pattern of the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P).
Methods. We developed a numerical model that computes the production rate and non-gravitational acceleration of the nucleus of comet 67P as a function of time, taking into account its complex shape with a shape model reconstructed from OSIRIS imagery. We used this model to fit three observational data sets: the trajectory data from flight dynamics; the rotation state as reconstructed from OSIRIS imagery; and the water production measurements from ROSINA of 67P. The two key parameters of our model, adjusted to fit the three data sets all together, are the activity pattern and the momentum transfer efficiency (i.e., the so-called η parameter of the non-gravitational forces).
Results. We find an activity pattern that can successfully reproduce the three data sets simultaneously. The fitted activity pattern exhibits two main features: a higher effective active fraction in two southern super-regions (~10%) outside perihelion compared to the northern regions (<4%), and a drastic rise in effective active fraction of the southern regions (~25−35%) around perihelion. We interpret the time-varying southern effective active fraction by cyclic formation and removal of a dust mantle in these regions. Our analysis supports moderate values of the momentum transfer coefficient η in the range 0.6–0.7; values η ≤ 0.5 or η ≥ 0.8 significantly degrade the fit to the three data sets. Our conclusions reinforce the idea that seasonal effects linked to the orientation of the spin axis play a key role in the formation and evolution of dust mantles, and in turn, they largely control the temporal variations of the gas flux.
Key words: planets and satellites: dynamical evolution and stability / comets: individual: 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko / comets: general
© N. Attree et al. 2019
Open Access article, published by EDP Sciences, under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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