Evolution of the dust size distribution of comet 67P/Churymov–Gerasimenko from 2.2 au to Perihelion

Fulle, M.; Marzari, F.; Della Corte, V.; Fornasier, S.; Sierks, H.; Rotundi, A.; Barbieri, C.; Lamy, P. L.; Rodrigo, R.; Koschny, D.; Rickman, H.; Keller, H. U.; López-Moreno, J. J.; Accolla, M.; Agarwal, J.; A’Hearn, M. F.; Altobelli, N.; Barucci, M. A.; Bertaux, J.-L.; Bertini, I.; ... (2016). Evolution of the dust size distribution of comet 67P/Churymov–Gerasimenko from 2.2 au to Perihelion. Astrophysical journal, 821(1), p. 19. Institute of Physics Publishing IOP 10.3847/0004-637x/821/1/19

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The Rosetta probe, orbiting Jupiter-family comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, has been detecting individual dust particles of mass larger than 10−10 kg by means of the GIADA dust collector and the OSIRIS Wide Angle Camera and Narrow Angle Camera since 2014 August and will continue until 2016 September. Detections of single dust particles allow us to estimate the anisotropic dust flux from 67P, infer the dust loss rate and size distribution at the surface of the sunlit nucleus, and see whether the dust size distribution of 67P evolves in time. The velocity of the Rosetta orbiter, relative to 67P, is much lower than the dust velocity measured by GIADA, thus dust counts when GIADA is nadir-pointing will directly provide the dust flux. In OSIRIS observations, the dust flux is derived from the measurement of the dust space density close to the spacecraft. Under the assumption of radial expansion of the dust, observations in the nadir direction provide the distance of the particles by measuring their trail length, with a parallax baseline determined by the motion of the spacecraft. The dust size distribution at sizes >1 mm observed by OSIRIS is consistent with a differential power index of −4, which was derived from models of 67P's trail. At sizes <1 mm, the size distribution observed by GIADA shows a strong time evolution, with a differential power index drifting from −2 beyond 2 au to −3.7 at perihelion, in agreement with the evolution derived from coma and tail models based on ground-based data. The refractory-to-water mass ratio of the nucleus is close to six during the entire inbound orbit and at perihelion.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


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

UniBE Contributor:

Thomas, Nicolas


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




Institute of Physics Publishing IOP




Katharina Weyeneth-Moser

Date Deposited:

06 Jul 2017 10:25

Last Modified:

06 Jul 2017 10:25

Publisher DOI:






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