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Investigating the Rosetta/RTOF observations of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko using a comet nucleus model: Influence of dust mantle and trapped CO

  • Context. Cometary outgassing is induced by the sublimation of ices and the ejection of dust originating from the nucleus. Therefore measuring the composition and dynamics of the cometary gas provides information concerning the interior composition of the body. Nevertheless, the bulk composition differs from the coma composition, and numerical models are required to simulate the main physical processes induced by the illumination of the icy body. Aims. The objectives of this study are to bring new constraints on the interior composition of the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (hereafter 67P) by comparing the results of a thermophysical model applied to the nucleus of 67P and the coma measurements made by the Reflectron-type Time-Of-Flight (RTOF) mass spectrometer. This last is one of the three instruments of the Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA), used during the Rosetta mission. Methods. Using a thermophysical model of the comet nucleus, we studied the evolution of the stratigraphy (position of the sublimation and crystallisation fronts), the temperature of the surface and subsurface, and the dynamics and spatial distribution of the volatiles (H2O, CO2 and CO). We compared them with the in situ measurements from ROSINA/RTOF and an inverse coma model. Results. We observed the evolution of the surface and near surface temperature, and the deepening of sublimation fronts. The thickness of the dust layer covering the surface strongly influences the H2O outgassing but not the more volatiles species. The CO outgassing is highly sensitive to the initial CO/H2O ratio, as well as to the presence of trapped CO in the amorphous ice. Conclusions. The study of the influence of the initial parameters on the computed volatile fluxes and the comparison with ROSINA/RTOF measurements provide a range of values for an initial dust mantle thickness and a range of values for the volatile ratio. These imply the presence of trapped CO. Nevertheless, further studies are required to reproduce the strong change of behaviour observed in RTOF measurements between September 2014 and February 2015.
Author:Margaux Hoang, Philippe Garnier, Jeremie Lasue, Henri Rème, Maria Teresa Capria, Kathrin AltweggORCiD, Matthias LäuterORCiD, Tobias KramerORCiD, Martin RubinORCiD
Document Type:Article
Parent Title (English):Astronomy & Astrophysics
First Page:A106
Year of first publication:2020
Page Number:16
Published in:Astronomy & Astrophysics
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