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Interior of 67P/C-G comet as seen by CONSERT bistatic radar on Rosetta


The scientific objectives of the Comet Nucleus Sounding Experiment by Radiowave Transmission (CONSERT) aboard ESA spacecraft’s Rosetta was to perform an interior characterization of comet 67P/C-G nucleus. This characterization is important to understand the formation and evolution of comets. The measurements were done by means of a bi-static sounding between Philae lander on the nucleus surface and Rosetta orbiter. CONSERT operated during 9 hours after Philae’s landing and made measurements through the small lobe (head) of 67P/ C-G. The analyses and interpretation have been done using the shape of the received signals and 3D modeling of the signal propagation. The propagation time inside the nucleus allowed us to derive the average permittivity value (1.27+/- 0.05 ) of the cometary interior. Permittivity data for ices and dust particles were compared with our measurements, providing constraints on the nucleus constituents (ices, silicates and organics) and the bulk porosity (70-85%). The shape of the received signals, very close to the calibration signal’s one, showed that no significant scattering by heterogeneities is occurring inside the nucleus. This indicates that the interior is homogeneous at a scale of a few CONSERT’s 3-m wavelengths. This conclusion lead to 3D simulations of the signal propagation in non-homogeneous nuclei models, to define the sensitivity of CONSERT to detect potential inhomogeneities and to find constrains on the internal structures in terms of size and composition at a scale commensurate with the wavelength. Given the high bulk porosity of 75% inside the sounded part of the nucleus, a likely model would be obtained by a mixture, at 3m-size scale, of voids (vacuum) and blobs with material made of ices and dust with a porosity above 60%. The absence of any pulse spreading by scattering excludes heterogeneities with higher contrast (0.25) and larger size (3m) (but remaining on the few wavelengths scale, since larger scales can be responsible for multipath propagation). These very important results provide clues to a better understanding of the comet formation processes.
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insu-01675762 , version 1 (04-01-2018)


  • HAL Id : insu-01675762 , version 1


Wlodek W. Kofman, Alain Hérique, Valérie Ciarletti, Anny Chantal Levasseur-Regourd, Jérémie Lasue, et al.. Interior of 67P/C-G comet as seen by CONSERT bistatic radar on Rosetta. AGU 2017 Fall Meeting, Dec 2017, New Orleans, United States. ⟨insu-01675762⟩
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