ESA Science & Technology - Publication Archive
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For all publications related to the Rosetta mission, please include the following acknowledgement:
Rosetta is an ESA mission with contributions from its Member States and NASA. Rosetta's Philae lander is provided by a consortium led by DLR, MPS, CNES and ASI.
For papers using Rosetta mission archive data provided by the PSA (https://archives.esac.esa.int/psa/) or PDS (https://pds.nasa.gov) please acknowledge the Principal Investigator(s) as well as the ESA Planetary Science Archive and NASA PDS Planetary Data System.
To refer to this page you can use the following url: https://sci.esa.int/rosetta-publications.
A list of Rosetta publications is maintained at the ADS library by the Project Scientist: ADS Library.
Research articles and reports from the Science journal special issue, Catching a comet, in which the first results from the Rosetta orbiter instruments are reported are available (free access) here.
Research articles and reports from the Science journal special issue on Philae's first look are available (free access) here.
A special issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics on Rosetta mission results pre-perihelion was published in November 2015. It is available here.
A special issue of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society resulting from The ESLAB 50 Symposium - spacecraft at comets from 1P/Halley to 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was compiled in Autumn 2016. It is available here.
A second special issue of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society resulting from the conference Comets: A new vision after Rosetta and Philae was compiled in Spring/Summer 2017. It is available here.
A second special issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics on Rosetta mission full comet phase results was published in September 2019. It is available here.
A list of Rosetta-related theses which have been prepared can be found here.
The European Space Agency Rosetta mission reached and started escorting its main target, the Jupiter-family comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, at the beginning of August 2014. Within the context of solar system small bodies, satellite searches from approaching spacecraft were extensively used in the past to study the nature of the visited bodies and their collisional environment.
Aims. During the approaching phase to the comet in July 2014, the OSIRIS instrument onboard Rosetta performed a campaign aimed at detecting objects in the vicinity of the comet nucleus and at measuring these objects' possible bound orbits. In addition to the scientific purpose, the search also focused on spacecraft security to avoid hazardous material in the comet's environment.
Methods. Images in the red spectral domain were acquired with the OSIRIS Narrow Angle Camera, when the spacecraft was at a distance between 5785 km and 5463 km to the comet, following an observational strategy tailored to maximize the scientific outcome. From the acquired images, sources were extracted and displayed to search for plausible displacements of all sources from image to image. After stars were identified, the remaining sources were thoroughly analyzed. To place constraints on the expected displacements of a potential satellite, we performed Monte Carlo simulations on the apparent motion of potential satellites within the Hill sphere.
Results. We found no unambiguous detections of objects larger than ~6 m within ~20 km and larger than ~1 m between ~20 km and ~110 km from the nucleus, using images with an exposure time of 0.14 s and 1.36 s, respectively. Our conclusions are consistent with independent works on dust grains in the comet coma and on boulders counting on the nucleus surface.
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Context. We investigate the dust coma within the Hill sphere of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Aims. We aim to determine osculating orbital elements for individual distinguishable but unresolved slow-moving grains in the vicinity of the nucleus. In addition, we perform photometry and constrain grain sizes.
Methods. We performed astrometry and photometry using images acquired by the OSIRIS Wide Angle Camera on the European Space Agency spacecraft Rosetta. Based on these measurements, we employed standard orbit determination and orbit improvement techniques.
Results. Orbital elements and effective diameters of four grains were constrained, but we were unable to uniquely determine them. Two of the grains have light curves that indicate grain rotation.
Conclusions. The four grains have diameters nominally in the range 0.14–0.50 m. For three of the grains, we found elliptic orbits, which is consistent with a cloud of bound particles around the nucleus. However, hyperbolic escape trajectories cannot be excluded for any of the grains, and for one grain this is the only known option. One grain may have originated from the surface shortly before observation. These results have possible implications for the understanding of the dispersal of the cloud of bound debris around comet nuclei, as well as for understanding the ejection of large grains far from the Sun.
The Microwave Instrument on the Rosetta Orbiter (MIRO) has been observing the coma of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko almost continuously since June 2014 at wavelengths near 0.53 mm. We present here a map of the water column density in the inner coma (within 3 km from nucleus center) when the comet was at 3.4 AU from the Sun. Based on the analysis of the H216O and H218O (110-101) lines, we find that the column density can vary by two orders of magnitude in this region. The highest column density is observed in a narrow region on the dayside, close to the neck and north pole rotation axis of the nucleus, while the lowest column density is seen against the nightside of the nucleus where outgassing seems to be very low. We estimate that the outgassing pattern can be represented by a Gaussian distribution in a solid angle with FWHM ≈ 80°
Aims. The Alice far-ultraviolet spectrograph onboard Rosetta is designed to observe emissions from various atomic and molecular species from within the coma of comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko and to determine their spatial distribution and evolution with time and heliocentric distance.
Methods. Following orbit insertion in August 2014, Alice made observations of the inner coma above the limbs of the nucleus of the comet from cometocentric distances varying between 10 and 80 km. Depending on the position and orientation of the slit relative to the nucleus, emissions of atomic hydrogen and oxygen were initially detected. These emissions are spatially localized close to the nucleus and spatially variable with a strong enhancement above the comet's neck at northern latitudes. Weaker emission from atomic carbon and CO were subsequently detected.
Results. Analysis of the relative line intensities suggests photoelectron impact dissociation of H2O vapor as the source of the observed HI and OI emissions. The electrons are produced by photoionization of H2O. The observed CI emissions are also attributed to electron impact dissociation, of CO2, and their relative brightness to HI reflects the variation of CO2 to H2O column abundance in the coma.
Since OSIRIS started acquiring high-resolution observations of the surface of the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, over one hundred meter-sized bright spots have been identified in numerous types of geomorphologic regions, but mostly located in areas receiving low insolation. The bright spots are either clustered, in debris fields close to decameter-high cliffs, or isolated without structural relation to the surrounding terrain. They can be up to ten times brighter than the average surface of the comet at visible wavelengths and display a significantly bluer spectrum. They do not exhibit significant changes over a period of a few weeks. All these observations are consistent with exposure of water ice at the surface of boulders produced by dislocation of the weakly consolidated layers that cover large areas of the nucleus. Laboratory experiments show that under simulated comet surface conditions, analog samples acquire a vertical stratification with an uppermost porous mantle of refractory dust overlaying a layer of hard ice formed by recondensation or sintering under the insulating dust mantle. The evolution of the visible spectrophotometric properties of samples during sublimation is consistent with the contrasts of brightness and color seen at the surface of the nucleus. Clustered bright spots are formed by the collapse of overhangs that is triggered by mass wasting of deeper layers. Isolated spots might be the result of the emission of boulders at low velocity that are redepositioned in other regions.
Context. Since August 2014, the OSIRIS Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) onboard the Rosetta spacecraft has acquired high spatial resolution images of the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, down to the decimeter scale. This paper focuses on the Imhotep region, located on the largest lobe of the nucleus, near the equator.
Aims. We map, inventory, and describe the geomorphology of the Imhotep region. We propose and discuss some processes to explain the formation and ongoing evolution of this region.
Methods. We used OSIRIS NAC images, gravitational heights and slopes, and digital terrain models to map and measure the morphologies of Imhotep.
Results. The Imhotep region presents a wide variety of terrains and morphologies: smooth and rocky terrains, bright areas, linear features, roundish features, and boulders. Gravity processes such as mass wasting and collapse play a significant role in the geomorphological evolution of this region. Cometary processes initiate erosion and are responsible for the formation of degassing conduits that are revealed by elevated roundish features on the surface. We also propose a scenario for the formation and evolution of the Imhotep region; this implies the presence of large primordial voids inside the nucleus, resulting from its formation process.
Molecular nitrogen (N2) is thought to have been the most abundant form of nitrogen in the protosolar nebula. It is the main N-bearing molecule in the atmospheres of Pluto and Triton, and probably the main nitrogen reservoir from which the giant planets formed. Yet in comets, often considered as the most primitive bodies in the solar system, N2 has not been detected. Here we report the direct in situ measurement of N2 in the Jupiter family comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko made by the ROSINA mass spectrometer aboard the Rosetta spacecraft. A N2/CO ratio of (5.70 ± 0.66) × 10-3 (SEM) corresponds to depletion by a factor of ~25.4 ± 8.9 compared to the protosolar value. This depletion suggests that cometary grains formed at low temperature conditions below ~30 K.
Comets are composed of dust and frozen gases. The ices are mixed with the refractory material either as an icy conglomerate, or as an aggregate of pre-solar grains (grains that existed prior to the formation of the Solar System), mantled by an ice layer. The presence of water-ice grains in periodic comets is now well established. Modelling of infrared spectra obtained about ten kilometres from the nucleus of comet Hartley 2 suggests that larger dust particles are being physically decoupled from fine-grained water-ice particles that may be aggregates, which supports the icy-conglomerate model. It is known that comets build up crusts of dust that are subsequently shed as they approach perihelion. Micrometre-sized interplanetary dust particles collected in the Earth's stratosphere and certain micrometeorites are assumed to be of cometary origin. Here we report that grains collected from the Jupiter-family comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko come from a dusty crust that quenches the material outflow activity at the comet surface. The larger grains (exceeding 50 micrometres across) are fluffy (with porosity over 50 per cent), and many shattered when collected on the target plate, suggesting that they are agglomerates of entities in the size range of interplanetary dust particles. Their surfaces are generally rich in sodium, which explains the high sodium abundance in cometary meteoroids. The particles collected to date therefore probably represent parent material of interplanetary dust particles. This argues against comet dust being composed of a silicate core mantled by organic refractory material and then by a mixture of water-dominated ices. At its previous recurrence (orbital period 6.5 years), the comet's dust production doubled when it was between 2.7 and 2.5 astronomical units from the Sun, indicating that this was when the nucleus shed its mantle.
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"Time variability and heterogeneity in the coma of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko," by M. Hässig et al. (ROSINA)
"Birth of a comet magnetosphere: a spring of water ions," by H. Nilsson et al. (RPC-ICA)
"The organic-rich surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as seen by VIRTIS/Rosetta," by F. Capaccioni et al. (VIRTIS)
"Subsurface properties and early activity of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko," by S. Gulkis et al. (MIRO)
"67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a Jupiter family comet with a high D/H ratio," by K. Altwegg et al. (ROSINA)
"The Morphological Diversity of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko," by N. Thomas et al. (OSIRIS)
"On the nucleus structure and activity of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko," by H. Sierks et al. (OSIRIS)
"Dust Measurements in the Coma of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko Inbound to the Sun Between 3.7 and 3.4 AU," by A. Rotundi et al. (GIADA)
The provenance of water and organic compounds on the Earth and other terrestrial planets has been discussed for a long time without reaching a consensus. One of the best means to distinguish between different scenarios is by determining the D/H ratios in the reservoirs for comets and the Earth's oceans. Here we report the direct in situ measurement of the D/H ratio in the Jupiter family comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by the ROSINA mass spectrometer aboard ESA's Rosetta spacecraft, which is found to be (5.3 ± 0.7) × 10−4, that is, ~3 times the terrestrial value. Previous cometary measurements and our new finding suggest a wide range of D/H ratios in the water within Jupiter family objects and preclude the idea that this reservoir is solely composed of Earth ocean-like water.