Nucleus structure and dust morphology: Post-Rosetta understanding and implications

Abstract : The structure of cometary nuclei and the morphology of dust particles they eject have long been unknowns in cometary science. The combination of these two subjects, as revealed by the Rosetta mission at 67P/C-G, is currently providing an unprecedented insight about Solar System formation and early evolution.Rosetta has established that the bulk porosity of 67P/C-G nucleus is high, in the 70% to 85% range, both from the determination of its density and from permittivity measurements with CONSERT bistatic radar experiment [1-2]. CONSERT, through operations after Philae landing on 12-13 November 2014, has also allowed us to estimate that i) the porosity is likely to be higher inside the nucleus than on its subsurface, ii) a major component of the nucleus is refractory carbonaceous compounds, and iii) the small lobe is homogeneous at a scale of a few wavelengths (i.e., about 10 m), while heterogeneities in the 3-m range (similar to the rounded nodules noticed on walls of large pits) cannot be ruled out [2-4].Rosetta has also established, through its 26 months rendezvous with 67P/C-G, the aggregated structure of dust particles within a wide range of sizes in the inner cometary coma. The MIDAS atomic force microscope experiment has given us evidence (from 3D topographic images with nano- to micrometer resolution) for i) a hierarchical structure of aggregated dust particles, down to tens of nm-sized grains, ii) one extremely porous dust particle, with a fractal dimension of (1.7 ± 0.1) [5-6]. The accuracy of comparisons between cometary dust particles and interplanetary dust particles collected in the stratosphere (including CP-IDPs) could thus be improved.Such results should further refine the main processes (e.g., low velocity aggregation) that allowed the formation of comets in the early Solar System, and the implications of a possible late heavy bombardment on the interplanetary dust clouds and on telluric planets.References. 1. Pätzold et al. Nature 530 63 2016. 2. Kofman et al. Science 349 6247 2015. 3. Herique et al. MNRAS 462 S516 2016. 4. Ciarletti et al. A&A 583 A40 2015. 5. Bentley et al., Nature 537 73 2016. 6. Mannel et al., MNRAS 462 S304 2016.
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Anny Chantal Levasseur-Regourd, Mark Bentley, Valérie Ciarletti, Woldek Kofman, Jérémie Lasue, et al.. Nucleus structure and dust morphology: Post-Rosetta understanding and implications. 49th Annual Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting, Oct 2017, Provo, Utah, United States. ⟨insu-01689605⟩

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