The Plasma Environment of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Goetz, Charlotte, Behar, Etienne, Beth, Arnaud, Bodewits, Dennis, Bromley, Steve, Burch, Jim, Deca, Jan, Divin, Andrey, Eriksson, Anders I., Feldman, Paul D., Galand, Marina, Gunell, Herbert, Henri, Pierre, Héritier, Kevin L., Jones, Geraint H., Mandt, Kathleen E., Nilsson, Hans, Noonan, John W., Odelstad, Elias, Parker, Joel W., Rubin, Martin, Cyril, Simon Wedlund, Stephenson, Peter, Taylor, Matthew G. G. T., Vigren, Erik, Vines, Sarah K. and Volwerk, Martin (2022) The Plasma Environment of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Space Science Reviews, 218 (8). p. 65. ISSN 0038-6308

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The environment of a comet is a fascinating and unique laboratory to study plasma processes and the formation of structures such as shocks and discontinuities from electron scales to ion scales and above. The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission collected data for more than two years, from the rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August 2014 until the final touch-down of the spacecraft end of September 2016. This escort phase spanned a large arc of the comet’s orbit around the Sun, including its perihelion and corresponding to heliocentric distances between 3.8 AU and 1.24 AU. The length of the active mission together with this span in heliocentric and cometocentric distances make the Rosetta data set unique and much richer than sets obtained with previous cometary probes. Here, we review the results from the Rosetta mission that pertain to the plasma environment. We detail all known sources and losses of the plasma and typical processes within it. The findings from in-situ plasma measurements are complemented by remote observations of emissions from the plasma. Overviews of the methods and instruments used in the study are given as well as a short review of the Rosetta mission. The long duration of the Rosetta mission provides the opportunity to better understand how the importance of these processes changes depending on parameters like the outgassing rate and the solar wind conditions. We discuss how the shape and existence of large scale structures depend on these parameters and how the plasma within different regions of the plasma environment can be characterised. We end with a non-exhaustive list of still open questions, as well as suggestions on how to answer them in the future.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: Part of this work was inspired by discussions within International Team 402: “Plasma Environment of Comet 67P after Rosetta” at the International Space Science Institute, Bern, Switzerland. The authors thank the entire team behind ESA’s Rosetta mission and those that analysed the data and published the scientific results that are reviewed here. This work was supported in part by NASA Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI): Institute for Modeling Plasmas, Atmosphere, and Cosmic Dust (IMPACT), and the NASA High-End Computing (HEC) Program through the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Division at Ames Research Center. J.D. gratefully acknowledges support from NASA’s Rosetta Data Analysis Program, Grant No. 80NSSC19K1305. C.G. is supported by an ESA Research Fellowship. K.E.M. acknowledges support from NASA RDAP 80NSSC19K1306. Work at Umeå University was supported by the Swedish National Space Agency, grant 108/18. The work by CSW is supported by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) under project N32035-N36. A.D. is supported by the Foundation for the Advancement of Theoretical Physics and Mathematics “BASIS”, grant 20-1-2-18-1. M.R. was funded by the State of Bern and the Swiss National Science Foundation (200020182418). The work by M.G. was supported by the STFC of the UK under grant ST/N000692/1 and by ESA under contract number 4000119035/16/ES/JD. Work at CNRS was supported by CNES.
Subjects: F300 Physics
F500 Astronomy
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2022 11:32
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2022 09:30

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