The Rocky-Like Behavior of Cometary Landslides on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Alice Lucchetti, Luca Penasa, Maurizio Pajola, Matteo Massironi, Maria Teresa Brunetti, Gabriele Cremonese, Nilda Oklay, Jean Baptiste Vincent, Stefano Mottola, Sonia Fornasier, Holger Sierks, Giampiero Naletto, Philippe L. Lamy, Rafael Rodrigo, Detlef Koschny, Bjorn Davidsson, Cesare Barbieri, Maria Antonietta Barucci, Jean Loup Bertaux, Ivano BertiniDennis Bodewits, Pamela Cambianica, Vania Da Deppo, Stefano Debei, Mariolino De Cecco, Jacob Deller, Sabrina Ferrari, Francesca Ferri, Marco Franceschi, Marco Fulle, Pedro Gutiérrez, Carsten Güttler, Wing H. Ip, Uwe Keller, Luisa Lara, Monica Lazzarin, Jose Lopez Moreno, Francesco Marzari, Cecilia Tubiana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Landslides have been identified on several solar system bodies, and different mechanisms have been proposed to explain their runout length. We analyze images from the Rosetta mission and report the global characterization of such features on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko's surface. By assuming the height to runout length as an approximation for the friction coefficient of landslide material, we find that on comet 67P, this ratio falls between 0.50 and 0.97. Such unexpected high values reveal a rocky-type mechanical behavior that is much more akin to Earth dry landslides than to icy satellites' mass movements. This behavior indicates that 67P and likely comets in general are characterized by consolidated materials possibly rejecting the idea that they are fluffy aggregates. The variability of the runout length among 67P landslides can be attributed to the different volatile content located in the top few meters of the cometary crust, which can drive the mass movement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14336-14346
Number of pages11
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number24
StatePublished - 28 Dec 2019


  • comet 67P
  • comet surface
  • landslides


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