publication 21-October-2017 21:27:00

Subsurface properties and early activity of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Publication date: 23 January 2015

Authors: Gulkis, S., et al.

Journal: Science
Volume: 347
Issue: 6220
Year: 2015

Copyright: AAAS

Heat transport and ice sublimation in comets are interrelated processes reflecting properties acquired at the time of formation and during subsequent evolution. The Microwave Instrument on the Rosetta Orbiter (MIRO) acquired maps of the subsurface temperature of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, at 1.6 mm and 0.5 mm wavelengths, and spectra of water vapor. The total H2O production rate varied from 0.3 kg s-1 in early June 2014 to 1.2 kg s-1 in late August and showed periodic variations related to nucleus rotation and shape. Water outgassing was localized to the "neck" region of the comet. Subsurface temperatures showed seasonal and diurnal variations, which indicated that the submillimeter radiation originated at depths comparable to the diurnal thermal skin depth. A low thermal inertia (~10 to 50 J K-1 m-2 s-0.5), consistent with a thermally insulating powdered surface, is inferred.

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Last Update: 23 January 2015

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