Subsurface properties and early activity of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Samuel Gulkis, Mark Allen, Paul Von Allmen, Gerard Beaudin, Nicolas Biver, Dominique Bockelée-Morvan, Mathieu Choukroun, Jacques Crovisier, Björn J.R. Davidsson, Pierre Encrenaz, Therese Encrenaz, Margaret Frerking, Paul Hartogh, Mark Hofstadter, Wing Huen Ip, Michael Janssen, Christopher Jarchow, Stephen Keihm, Seungwon Lee, Emmanuel LellouchCedric Leyrat, Ladislav Rezac, F. Peter Schloerb, Thomas Spilker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Heat transport and ice sublimation in comets are interrelated processes reflecting properties acquired at the time of formation and during subsequent evolution. The Microwave Instrument on the Rosetta Orbiter (MIRO) acquired maps of the subsurface temperature of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, at 1.6 mm and 0.5 mm wavelengths, and spectra of water vapor. The total H2O production rate varied from 0.3 kg s-1 in early June 2014 to 1.2 kg s-1 in late August and showed periodic variations related to nucleus rotation and shape. Water outgassing was localized to the "neck" region of the comet. Subsurface temperatures showed seasonal and diurnal variations, which indicated that the submillimeter radiation originated at depths comparable to the diurnal thermal skin depth. A low thermal inertia (∼10 to 50 J K-1 m-2 s-0.5), consistent with a thermally insulating powdered surface, is inferred.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberaaa070
Issue number6220
StatePublished - 23 Jan 2015


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