Asset Publisher

The diurnal cycle of water ice on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

The diurnal cycle of water ice on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Publication date: 25 September 2015

Authors: De Sanctis, M.C., et al.

Journal: Nature
Volume: 525
Issue: 7570
Page: 500-503
Year: 2015

Copyright: Nature Publishing Group

Observations of cometary nuclei have revealed a very limited amount of surface water ice, which is insufficient to explain the observed water outgassing. This was clearly demonstrated on comet 9P/Tempel 1, where the dust jets (driven by volatiles) were only partially correlated with the exposed ice regions. The observations of 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko have revealed that activity has a diurnal variation in intensity arising from changing insolation conditions. It was previously concluded that water vapour was generated in ice-rich subsurface layers with a transport mechanism linked to solar illumination, but that has not hitherto been observed. Periodic condensations of water vapour very close to, or on, the surface were suggested to explain short-lived outbursts seen near sunrise on comet 9P/Tempel 1. Here we report observations of water ice on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, appearing and disappearing in a cyclic pattern that follows local illumination conditions, providing a source of localized activity. This water cycle appears to be an important process in the evolution of the comet, leading to cyclical modification of the relative abundance of water ice on its surface.

Link to publication
Last Update: Sep 1, 2019 8:32:13 AM
28-Nov-2020 15:25 UT

ShortUrl Portlet

Shortcut URL

https://sci.esa.int/s/AqP7gQ8

Related Publications

Related Links

Documentation

Further Readings