ESA Science & Technology - Publication Archive
[Remainder of abstract truncated due to character limitations]
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.
We present Cluster measurements of large amplitude electric fields correlated with intense downward field-aligned currents, observed during a nightside crossing of the auroral zone. The data are reproduced by a simple model of magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling which, under different conditions, can also produce a divergent electric field signature in the downward current region, or correlation between the electric and perturbed magnetic fields. We conclude that strong electric field associated with intense downward field-aligned current, such as this observation, is a signature of ionospheric plasma depletion caused by the downward current. It is also shown that the electric field in the downward current region correlates with downward current density if a background field is present, e.g., due to magnetospheric convection.
The internal ocean of Enceladus can be expected to present conditions favorable to the trapping of volatiles in clathrates. This process could influence the eventual composition of the ocean and therefore of the plumes emitted by the south polar region. Here we used a statistical thermodynamic model to assess which species detected in the plumes by the Cassini-INMS experiment are trapped in clathrates. We treated Enceladus' internal ocean as a terrestrial subglacial lake with a mixture of dissolved volatiles indicated by plume gas measurements. We find that the conditions for clathrate formation are met in this ocean, except above 20 km or in hypothetical hot spots. The formation of multiple guest clathrates depletes methane below plume levels, suggesting that clathrates eventually dissociate (releasing methane) in the fissure that connects the ocean to the surface or that another mechanism (such as hydrothermal reactions) is compensating by adding methane into the ocean.
Aims. We study the potential of using the positions from the Tycho-2 Catalogue as additional information for a joint solution with early Gaia data. We call this the Tycho-Gaia astrometric solution (TGAS).
Methods. We adapt Gaia's Astrometric Global Iterative Solution (AGIS) to incorporate Tycho information, and use simulated Gaia observations to demonstrate the feasibility of TGAS and to estimate its performance.
Results. Using six to twelve months of Gaia data, TGAS could deliver positions, parallaxes, and annual proper motions for the 2.5 million Tycho-2 stars, with sub-milliarcsecond accuracy. TGAS overcomes some of the limitations of the HTPM project and allows its execution half a year earlier. Furthermore, if the parallaxes from Hipparcos are not incorporated in the solution, they can be used as a consistency check of the TGAS/HTPM results.
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.
[Remainder of abstract truncated due to character limitations]
"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.