Isotopes and Minor Volatiles in the Coma of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko Observed by the Rosetta/ROSINA Instrument: Planetary Implications
Abstract:The Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA) instrument suite is part of the payload of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft. Part of this suite, the Double Focusing Mass Spectrometer (DFMS) has been analyzing major (e.g., H2O,) as well as minor (CO, CO2, N2, NHx, noble gases) species and elements and some of their isotopes thanks to its high mass resolution of 3,000 at 1% peak height and its high sensitivity. In parallel to the presentation by Rubin et al. (this meeting) who discuss temporal variation of the coma composition as a function of heliospheric distance, we present here the on-going measurements done on the above species and isotopes. Besides temporal variability, one of the goals of ROSINA is to document the composition of cometary volatiles in the context of the formation of planets and of the origin of atmospheres.
The first detection of a noble gas, Ar, in a cometary coma (Balsiger et al, in press), together with the measured D/H isotope ratio and carbon species, constrains the origin of the inner planet atmospheres and the terrestrial oceans. Assuming that 67P is representative of the cometary reservoir, major volatiles (H, C, N) of the inner planets are unlikely to have originated from comets, but a cometary origin for atmospheric noble gases is a viable hypothesis. However, these cometary measurements were done during a short interval of time (in autumn 2014) when the comet was at 3.5 AU from the Sun, which raises the question of how well they represent the bulk cometary composition. Further measurements of the bulk composition are planned close to the perihelion. Also of interest is the isotope composition of nitrogen in N-bearing compounds. Spectroscopic measurements of cometary HCN and NH2+ done so far indicate a two-fold enrichment in 15N, that needs to be confirmed by in-situ mass spectrometry. Measurements of other noble gases, in particular Xe (a very difficult measurement), may set stringent constraints on the nature (clathrate vs. amorphous) of cometary ice. Results from these measurements before and after the perihelion will be presented.