Inventory of Volatiles in the Coma of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from Rosetta ROSINA – An Overview of First Results
Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 10:25 AM
The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft is now close in a bound orbit around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P/C-G). On board is the Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA) instrument suite. ROSINA consists of two mass spectrometers, the Double Focusing Mass Spectrometer (DFMS) and the Reflectron-type Time-Of-Flight (RTOF), as well as the COmet Pressure Sensor (COPS). ROSINA is designed to detect and monitor the neutral gas and thermal plasma environment in the comet’s coma by in situ investigation. The two mass spectrometers have high dynamic ranges and complement each other with high mass resolution (DFMS) and high time resolution and large mass range (RTOF). Especially the unprecedented sensitivity and mass resolution of DFMS together with the large mass range of RTOF will allow determining precisely light species (e.g. isotopologues) as well as detecting heavy organics. The pressure sensor COPS is capable to derive total gas densities, velocities, and temperatures. To date only limited data for the composition of cometary comae at heliocentric distances of more than 2.5 AU are available. The set is dominated by CO and daughter species of water from bright comets originating in the Oort cloud. While some molecules can be detected from far by remote sensing (e.g. CO) other molecules are much more difficult to observe from ground (e.g. CO2). The Rosetta mission presents a unique opportunity to directly probe the parent species in the thin cometary atmosphere of a Kuiper-belt object at more than 2.5 AU from the Sun and relate it to ground-based observations. Distances that far from the Sun are of particular interest as the comet’s activity transitions from being super volatiles dominated to being water dominated. We will report on the first measurements of the volatile inventory obtained from ROSINA observations as Rosetta is following comet 67P/C-G in close vicinity.