Special Issue Research Articles

Properties of the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko interior revealed by CONSERT radar

Science  31 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6247,
DOI: 10.1126/science.aab0639

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Abstract

The Philae lander provides a unique opportunity to investigate the internal structure of a comet nucleus, providing information about its formation and evolution in the early solar system. We present Comet Nucleus Sounding Experiment by Radiowave Transmission (CONSERT) measurements of the interior of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. From the propagation time and form of the signals, the upper part of the “head” of 67P is fairly homogeneous on a spatial scale of tens of meters. CONSERT also reduced the size of the uncertainty of Philae’s final landing site down to approximately 21 by 34 square meters. The average permittivity is about 1.27, suggesting that this region has a volumetric dust/ice ratio of 0.4 to 2.6 and a porosity of 75 to 85%. The dust component may be comparable to that of carbonaceous chondrites.

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