The Agilkia boulders/pebbles size–frequency distributions: OSIRIS and ROLIS joint observations of 67P surface

Pajola, M.; Mottola, S.; Hamm, M.; Fulle, M.; Davidsson, B.; Güttler, C.; Sierks, H.; Naletto, G.; Arnold, G.; Grothues, H.-G.; Jaumann, R.; Michaelis, H.; Bibring, J. P.; Barbieri, C.; Lamy, P. L.; Rodrigo, R.; Koschny, D.; Rickman, H.; Keller, H. U.; Agarwal, J.; ... (2016). The Agilkia boulders/pebbles size–frequency distributions: OSIRIS and ROLIS joint observations of 67P surface. Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 462(Suppl 1), S242-S252. Oxford University Press 10.1093/mnras/stw2720

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By using the images acquired by the OSIRIS (Optical, Spectroscopic and Infrared Remote Imaging System) and ROLIS (ROsetta Lander Imaging System) cameras, we derive the size– frequency distribution (SFD) of cometary pebbles and boulders covering the size range 0.05– 30.0 m on the Agilkia landing site. The global SFD measured on OSIRIS images, reflects the different properties of the multiple morphological units present on Agilkia, combined with selection effects related to lifting, transport and redeposition. Contrarily, the different ROLIS SFD derived on the smooth and rough units may be related to their different regolith thickness present on Agilkia. In the thicker, smoother layer, ROLIS mainly measures the SFD of the airfall population which almost completely obliterates the signature of underlying boulders up to a size of the order of 1 m. This is well matched by the power-law index derived analysing coma particles identified by the grain analyser Grain Impact Analyser and Dust Accumulator. This result confirms the important blanketing dynamism of Agilkia. The steeper SFD observed in rough terrains from 0.4 to 2 m could point out intrinsic differences between northern and southern dust size distributions, or it may suggest that the underlying boulders ‘peek through’ the thinner airfall layer in the rough terrain, thereby producing the observed excess in the decimetre size range. Eventually, the OSIRIS SFD performed on the Philae landing unit may be due to water sublimation from a static population of boulders, affecting smaller boulders before the bigger ones, thus shallowing the original SFD.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


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

UniBE Contributor:

Pommerol, Antoine and Thomas, Nicolas


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




Oxford University Press




Katharina Weyeneth-Moser

Date Deposited:

06 Jul 2017 11:32

Last Modified:

06 Jul 2017 11:32

Publisher DOI:





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