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Rosetta’s Comet Reveals Its Secrets

Rosetta’s Comet Reveals Its Secrets

ESA
January 22, 2015

Rosetta is revealing its host comet as having a remarkable array of surface features and with many processes contributing to its activity, painting a complex picture of its evolution.

In a special edition of the journal Science, initial results are presented from seven of Rosetta’s 11 science instruments based on measurements made during the approach to and soon after arriving at Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in August 2014.

The familiar shape of the dual-lobed comet has now had many of its vital statistics measured: the small lobe measures 2.6 × 2.3 × 1.8 km and the large lobe 4.1 × 3.3 × 1.8 km. The total volume of the comet is 21.4 km3 and the Radio Science Instrument has measured its mass to be 10 billion tonnes, yielding a density of 470 kg/m3.

By assuming an overall composition dominated by water ice and dust with a density of 1500–2000 kg/m3, the Rosetta scientists show that the comet has a very high porosity of 70–80%, with the interior structure likely comprising weakly bonded ice-dust clumps with small void spaces between them.

 

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Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

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