Special Research Articles

Modeling the Nucleus and Jets of Comet 81P/Wild 2 Based on the Stardust Encounter Data

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Science  18 Jun 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5678, pp. 1769-1774
DOI: 10.1126/science.1098388

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Abstract

We interpret the nucleus properties and jet activity from the Stardust spacecraft imaging and the onboard dust monitoring system data. Triangulation of 20 jets shows that 2 emanate from the nucleus dark side and 16 emanate from sources that are on slopes where the Sun's elevation is greater than predicted from the fitted triaxial ellipsoid. Seven sources, including five in the Mayo depression, coincide with relatively bright surface spots. Fitting the imaged jets, the spikelike temporal distribution of dust impacts indicates that the spacecraft crossed thin, densely populated sheets of particulate ejecta extending from small sources on the rotating nucleus, consistent with an emission cone model.

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