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Dust Environment Modelling of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

  • Agarwal, Jessica
  • Mueller, Michael
  • Gruen, Eberhard
Published Article
Publication Date
Jan 18, 2010
Submission Date
Jan 18, 2010
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Dust is an important constituent in cometary comae; its analysis is one of the major objectives of ESA's Rosetta mission to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (C-G). Several instruments aboard Rosetta are dedicated to studying various aspects of dust in the cometary coma, all of which require a certain level of exposure to dust to achieve their goals. At the same time, impacts of dust particles can constitute a hazard to the spacecraft. To conciliate the demands of dust collection instruments and spacecraft safety, it is desirable to assess the dust environment in the coma even before the arrival of Rosetta. We describe the present status of modelling the dust coma of 67P/C-G and predict the speed and flux of dust in the coma, the dust fluence on a spacecraft along sample trajectories, and the radiation environment in the coma. The model will need to be refined when more details of the coma are revealed by observations. An overview of astronomical observations of 67P/C-G is given and model parameters are derived from these data where possible. For quantities not yet measured for 67P/C-G, we use values obtained for other comets. One of the most important and most controversial parameters is the dust mass distribution. We summarise the mass distribution functions derived from the in-situ measurements at comet 1P/Halley in 1986. For 67P/C-G, constraining the mass distribution is currently only possible by the analysis of astronomical images. We find that the results from such analyses are at present rather heterogeneous, and we identify a need to find a model that is reconcilable with all available observations.

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