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Dust Environment Modelling of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

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Abstract

Dust is an important constituent of cometary emission; its analysis is one of the major objectives of ESA’s Rosetta mission to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (C–G). Several instruments aboard Rosetta are dedicated to studying various aspects of dust in the cometary coma, all of which require a certain level of exposure to dust to achieve their goals. At the same time, impacts of dust particles can constitute a hazard to the spacecraft. To conciliate the demands of dust collection instruments and spacecraft safety, it is desirable to assess the dust environment in the coma even before the arrival of Rosetta. We describe the present status of modelling the dust coma of 67P/C–G and predict the speed and flux of dust in the coma, the dust fluence on a spacecraft along sample trajectories, and the radiation environment in the coma. The model will need to be refined when more details of the coma are revealed by observations. An overview of astronomical observations of 67P/C–G is given, because model parameters are derived from this data if possible. For quantities not yet measured for 67P/C–G, we use values obtained for other comets, e.g. concerning the optical and compositional properties of the dust grains. One of the most important and most controversial parameters is the dust mass distribution. We summarise the mass distribution functions derived from the in-situ measurements at comet 1P/Halley in 1986. For 67P/C–G, constraining the mass distribution is currently only possible by the analysis of astronomical images. We find that both the dust mass distribution and the time dependence of the dust production rate of 67P/C–G are those of a fairly typical comet.

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Correspondence to Jessica Agarwal.

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Agarwal, J., Müller, M. & Grün, E. Dust Environment Modelling of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Space Sci Rev 128, 79–131 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-006-9139-1

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Keywords

  • Rosetta
  • 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
  • cometary dust
  • dust mass distribution
  • coma modelling
  • dust flux
  • dust fluence
  • surface coverage