Volume 630, October 2019
Rosetta mission full comet phase results
|Number of page(s)||20|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||20 September 2019|
3D thermal modeling of two selected regions on comet 67P and comparison with Rosetta/MIRO measurements
Space Research Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences,
2 Institute for Geophysics and Extraterrestrial Physics, TU Braunschweig, Mendelssohnstraße 3, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany
3 Max-Planck-Institute for Solar System Research, Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 3, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
Accepted: 18 April 2019
Context. The Microwave Instrument for the Rosetta Orbiter (MIRO) was one of the key instruments of the Rosetta mission, which acquired a wealth of data, in particular as the orbiter moved in the close environment of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (August 2014–September 2016). It was the only instrument of the Rosetta payload that was able to measure temperatures in the near-subsurface layers of the cometary nucleus down to a depth of some centimeters. This range is most relevant for understanding the mechanisms of cometary activity.
Aims. We simulate the 3D temperature distribution for two selected regions that were observed by MIRO in March 2015 when the comet was at a distance of about 2 au from the Sun. The importance of a full 3D treatment for a realistic subsurface temperature distribution and the thermal heat balance in the uppermost subsurface is investigated in comparison with analogous 1D simulations.
Methods. For this purpose, we developed a numerical heat transfer model of the surface as well as the near-subsurface regions. It enabled us to solve the heat transfer equation in the subsurface volume with appropriate radiation boundary conditions taken into account. The comparison with 1D simulations was made on the basis of the same solar irradiation history.
Results. Although the temperature gradient is predominantly normal to the comet surface, we still find that tangential flows may be responsible for local temperature differences of up to 30 K (a few Kelvin on the average) in the uppermost subsurface layers. From the results of the 3D simulations, we calculated the MIRO antenna temperature. A comparison with the actual measurements shows good agreement for the MIRO submillimeter channel, but there is a notable discrepancy for the millimeter channel. This last assessment is not related to the use of the 3D model; potential causes are discussed in some detail with a view to future studies.
Key words: comets: individual: 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko / methods: numerical / radiative transfer / submillimeter: general / space vehicles: instruments
© ESO 2019
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