Comparison of 3D kinetic and hydrodynamic models to ROSINA-COPS measurements of the neutral coma of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Bieler, Andre; Altwegg, Kathrin; Balsiger, Hans; Berthelier, Jean-Jacques; Calmonte, Ursina Maria; Combi, Michael; De Keyser, Johan; Fiethe, Björn; Fougere, Nicolas; Fuselier, Stephen; Gasc, Sébastien; Gombosi, Tamas; Hansen, Kenneth; Hässig, Myrtha; Huang, Zhenguang; Jäckel, Annette; Jia, Xianzhe; Le Roy, Lena; Mall, Urs A.; Rème, Henri; ... (2015). Comparison of 3D kinetic and hydrodynamic models to ROSINA-COPS measurements of the neutral coma of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Astronomy and astrophysics, 583(A7), A7. EDP Sciences 10.1051/0004-6361/201526178

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67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P) is a Jupiter-family comet and the object of investigation of the European Space Agency mission Rosetta. This report presents the first full 3D simulation results of 67P’s neutral gas coma. In this study we include results from a direct simulation Monte Carlo method, a hydrodynamic code, and a purely geometric calculation which computes the total illuminated surface area on the nucleus. All models include the triangulated 3D shape model of 67P as well as realistic illumination and shadowing conditions. The basic concept is the assumption that these illumination conditions on the nucleus are the main driver for the gas activity of the comet. As a consequence, the total production rate of 67P varies as a function of solar insolation. The best agreement between the model and the data is achieved when gas fluxes on the night side are in the range of 7% to 10% of the maximum flux, accounting for contributions from the most volatile components. To validate the output of our numerical simulations we compare the results of all three models to in situ gas number density measurements from the ROSINA COPS instrument. We are able to reproduce the overall features of these local neutral number density measurements of ROSINA COPS for the time period between early August 2014 and January 1 2015 with all three models. Some details in the measurements are not reproduced and warrant further investigation and refinement of the models. However, the overall assumption that illumination conditions on the nucleus are at least an important driver of the gas activity is validated by the models. According to our simulation results we find the total production rate of 67P to be constant between August and November 2014 with a value of about 1 × 10²⁶ molecules s⁻¹.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Space Research and Planetary Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Altwegg, Kathrin, Balsiger, Hans, Calmonte, Ursina Maria, Gasc, Sébastien, Hässig, Myrtha, Rubin, Martin, Tzou, Chia-Yu, Wurz, Peter


500 Science > 520 Astronomy
600 Technology > 620 Engineering




EDP Sciences




Martin Rubin

Date Deposited:

10 Jun 2016 13:47

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:50

Publisher DOI:





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