Special Issue Reports

Thermal and mechanical properties of the near-surface layers of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Science  31 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6247,
DOI: 10.1126/science.aab0464

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Abstract

Thermal and mechanical material properties determine comet evolution and even solar system formation because comets are considered remnant volatile-rich planetesimals. Using data from the Multipurpose Sensors for Surface and Sub-Surface Science (MUPUS) instrument package gathered at the Philae landing site Abydos on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, we found the diurnal temperature to vary between 90 and 130 K. The surface emissivity was 0.97, and the local thermal inertia was 85 ± 35 J m−2 K−1s-1/2. The MUPUS thermal probe did not fully penetrate the near-surface layers, suggesting a local resistance of the ground to penetration of >4 megapascals, equivalent to >2 megapascal uniaxial compressive strength. A sintered near-surface microporous dust-ice layer with a porosity of 30 to 65% is consistent with the data.

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