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Origin of the local structures at the Philae landing site and possible implications on the formation and evolution of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Abstract : In situ images of the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko nucleus acquired by the CIVA cameras on-board PHILAE revealed a rough landscape dominated by consolidated materials. These data provide a unique view to constrain the past and present conditions prevailing at the surface of the comet. A quantitative analysis of microscopic structures (fractures and pebbles) is derived using a manual extraction from the images. Fractures/cracks are rather ubiquitous at various spatial scales with network and size (from sub-cm to 10 cm) well correlated to the texture of the landscape. The pebble size distributions are derived and compared to the size distribution of other cometary materials. The nature of the landscape is then discussed in relation to endogenic and exogenic processes of surface modification. The block seen in CIVA no. 1 is interpreted to be close-ups of fractured boulder/cliff belonging to the boulder field identified from the orbit near Abydos, this boulder field being itself the result of gravitational regressive erosion due to sublimation. The observed fractures are best explained by thermal insolation leading to thermal fatigue and/or to loss of volatile materials. This surficial fragmentation (up to >10 cm length) could generate macroscopic erosion that is also visible at larger scale from the orbit. There is at least an intriguing possibility that the pebbles are remnants of primordial accretion processes. We thus speculate that the Abydos landscape could be in favour of pebble accretion model instead of runaway coagulation model with a formation location in the outer region of the Solar system.
Keywords : comets: general
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https://hal-insu.archives-ouvertes.fr/insu-03667693
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Submitted on : Friday, May 13, 2022 - 6:58:05 PM
Last modification on : Saturday, June 25, 2022 - 7:33:47 PM

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F. Poulet, A. Lucchetti, J. -P. Bibring, J. Carter, B. Gondet, et al.. Origin of the local structures at the Philae landing site and possible implications on the formation and evolution of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2016, 462, pp.S23-S32. ⟨10.1093/mnras/stw1959⟩. ⟨insu-03667693⟩

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