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FUV Spectral Signatures of Molecules and the Evolution of the Gaseous Coma of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko

Abstract : The Alice far-ultraviolet imaging spectrograph onboard Rosetta observed emissions from atomic and molecular species from within the coma of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko during the entire escort phase of the mission from 2014 August to 2016 September. The initial observations showed that emissions of atomic hydrogen and oxygen close to the surface were produced by energetic electron impact dissociation of H2O. Following delivery of the lander, Philae, on 2014 November 12, the trajectory of Rosetta shifted to near-terminator orbits that allowed for these emissions to be observed against the shadowed nucleus that, together with the compositional heterogeneity, enabled us to identify unique spectral signatures of dissociative electron impact excitation of H2O, CO2, and O2. CO emissions were found to be due to both electron and photoexcitation processes. Thus, we are able, from far-ultraviolet spectroscopy, to qualitatively study the evolution of the primary molecular constituents of the gaseous coma from start to finish of the escort phase. Our results show asymmetric outgassing of H2O and CO2 about perihelion, H2O dominant before and CO2 dominant after, consistent with the results from both the in situ and other remote sensing instruments on Rosetta.
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Submitted on : Saturday, November 28, 2020 - 5:43:11 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, April 14, 2021 - 3:39:10 AM


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Paul Feldman, Michael F. A'Hearn, Jean-Loup Bertaux, Lori M. Feaga, Brian A. Keeney, et al.. FUV Spectral Signatures of Molecules and the Evolution of the Gaseous Coma of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Astronomical Journal, American Astronomical Society, 2018, 155 (1), 9. ⟨10.3847/1538-3881/aa9bf2⟩. ⟨insu-01662711⟩



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