Inventory of the volatiles on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from Rosetta/ROSINA

Abstract : The ESA Rosetta spacecraft (S/C) is tracking comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in close vicinity. This prolonged en- counter enables studying the evolution of the volatile coma composition. Aims. Our work aims at comparing the diversity of the coma of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at large heliocentric distance to study the evolution of the comet during its passage around the Sun and at trying to classify it relative to other comets. Methods. We used the Double Focussing Mass Spectrometer (DFMS) of the ROSINA experiment on ESA’s Rosetta mission to determine relative abundances of major and minor volatile species. This study is restricted to species that have previously been detected elsewhere. Results. We detect almost all species currently known to be present in cometary coma with ROSINA DFMS. As DFMS measured the composition locally, we cannot derive a global abundance, but we compare measurements from the summer and the winter hemisphere with known abundances from other comets. Differences between relative abundances between summer and winter hemispheres are large, which points to a possible evolution of the cometary surface. This comet appears to be very rich in CO2 and ethane. Heavy oxygenated compounds such as ethylene glycol are underabundant at 3 AU, probably due to their high sublimation temperatures, but nevertheless, their presence proves that Kuiper belt comets also contain complex organic molecules.
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Léna Le Roy, Kathrin Altwegg, Hans Balsiger, Jean-Jacques Berthelier, Andre Bieler, et al.. Inventory of the volatiles on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from Rosetta/ROSINA. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2015, 583, A1 (12 p.). ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/201526450⟩. ⟨insu-01199178⟩

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