Thermal modelling of water activity on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko with global dust mantle and plural dust-to-ice ratio

X. Hu, X. Shi, H. Sierks, J. Blum, J. Oberst, M. Fulle, E. Kührt, C. Güttler, B. Gundlach, H. U. Keller, S. Mottola, M. Pajola, C. Barbieri, P. L. Lamy, R. Rodrigo, D. Koschny, H. Rickman, J. Agarwal, M. F. A'Hearn, M. A. BarucciJ. L. Bertaux, I. Bertini, S. Boudreault, I. Büttner, G. Cremonese, V. Da Deppo, B. Davidsson, S. Debei, M. De Cecco, J. Deller, S. Fornasier, O. Groussin, P. J. Gutiérrez, P. Gutiérrez-Marqués, I. Hall, M. Hofmann, S. F. Hviid, W. H. Ip, L. Jorda, J. Knollenberg, G. Kovacs, J. R. Kramm, M. Küppers, L. M. Lara, M. Lazzarin, J. J. López-Moreno, F. Marzari, G. Naletto, N. Oklay, M. L. Richards, J. Ripken, N. Thomas, C. Tubiana, J. B. Vincent

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32 Scopus citations


We perform a thermo-physical analysis on water activity of comet 67P/Churyumov- Gerasimenko (67P). The sublimation of water is assumed to occur from beneath a global, desiccated dust mantle over the irregular-shaped nucleus. The concept of two thermal models, the recipe of model formulation and the strategy of application to comet 67P are described. For an accurate and efficient evaluation of energy input by insolation and self-heating over the nucleus, a Landscape data base is devised based on polyhedral shape models of the nucleus. We apply the thermal models to investigate the impact of certain parameters of nucleus properties on water production. It is found that the measured water production of 67P can be overall attributed to sublimation of water ice with a mass abundance of a few to 10 per cent beneath a uniform dust mantle of several millimetres to one centimetre in thickness. Insofar as 67P is concerned, we argue against the necessity to invoke assumptions on localized water activity, or on the distinction of active/dormant surface areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S295-S311
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
StatePublished - 2017


  • Comets: general
  • Comets: individual (67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko)
  • Solid state: refractory
  • Solid state: volatile -methods: numerical


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