Rosetta’s comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko sheds its dusty mantle to reveal its icy nature

Fornasier, S.; Mottola, S.; Keller, H. U.; Barucci, M. A.; Davidsson, B.; Feller, C.; Deshapriya, J. D. P.; Sierks, H.; Barbieri, C.; Lamy, P. L.; Rodrigo, R.; Koschny, D.; Rickman, H.; A’Hearn, M.; Agarwal, J.; Bertaux, J.-L.; Bertini, I.; Besse, S.; Cremonese, G.; Da Deppo, V.; ... (2016). Rosetta’s comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko sheds its dusty mantle to reveal its icy nature. Science, 354(6319), pp. 1566-1570. American Association for the Advancement of Science 10.1126/science.aag2671

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The Rosetta spacecraft has investigated comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from large heliocentric distances to its perihelion passage and beyond. We trace the seasonal and diurnal evolution of the colors of the 67P nucleus, finding changes driven by sublimation and recondensation of water ice. The whole nucleus became relatively bluer near perihelion, as increasing activity removed the surface dust, implying that water ice is widespread underneath the surface. We identified large (1500 square meters) ice-rich patches appearing and then vanishing in about 10 days, indicating small-scale heterogeneities on the nucleus. Thin frosts sublimating in a few minutes are observed close to receding shadows, and rapid variations in color are seen on extended areas close to the terminator. These cyclic processes are widespread and lead to continuously, slightly varying surface properties.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

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

UniBE Contributor:

Elmaarry, Mohamed Ramy; Pommerol, Antoine and Thomas, Nicolas

Subjects:

500 Science > 520 Astronomy
600 Technology > 620 Engineering
500 Science > 530 Physics

ISSN:

0036-8075

Publisher:

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Language:

English

Submitter:

Katharina Weyeneth-Moser

Date Deposited:

06 Jul 2017 09:54

Last Modified:

09 Sep 2017 14:26

Publisher DOI:

10.1126/science.aag2671

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.96895

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/96895

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