The near-nucleus gas coma of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko prior to the descent of the surface lander PHILAE

Abstract : The European Space Agency (ESA) Rosetta mission was the most comprehensive study of a comet ever performed. In particular, the Rosetta orbiter, which carried many instruments for monitoring the evolution of the dusty gas emitted by the cometary nucleus, returned an enormous volume of observational data collected from the close vicinity of the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Aims. Such data are expected to yield unique information on the physical processes of gas and dust emission, using current physical model fits to the data. We present such a model (the RZC model) and our procedure of adjustment of this model to the data. The RZC model consists of two components: (1) a numerical three-dimensional time-dependent code solving the Eulerian/Navier-Stokes equations governing the gas outflow, and a direct simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) gaskinetic code with the same objective; and (2) an iterative procedure to adjust the assumed model parameters to best-fit the observational data at all times. We demonstrate that our model is able to reproduce the overall features of the local neutral number density and composition measurements of Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA) Comet Pressure Sensor (COPS) and Double Focusing Mass Spectrometer (DFMS) instruments in the period August 1–November 30, 2014. The results of numerical simulations show that illumination conditions on the nucleus are the main driver for the gas activity of the comet. We present the distribution of surface inhomogeneity best-fitted to the ROSINA COPS and DFMS in situ measurements.
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V. Zakharov, Jean-François Crifo, A.V. Rodionov, M. Rubin, K. Altwegg. The near-nucleus gas coma of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko prior to the descent of the surface lander PHILAE. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2018, 618, A71 (16 p.). ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/201832883⟩. ⟨hal-01912247⟩

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