The organic-rich surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as seen by VIRTIS/Rosetta

F. Capaccioni, A. Coradini, G. Filacchione, S. Erard, G. Arnold, P. Drossart, M. C. De Sanctis, D. Bockelee-Morvan, M. T. Capria, F. Tosi, C. Leyrat, B. Schmitt, E. Quirico, P. Cerroni, V. Mennella, A. Raponi, M. Ciarniello, T. McCord, L. Moroz, E. PalombaE. Ammannito, M. A. Barucci, G. Bellucci, J. Benkhoff, J. P. Bibring, A. Blanco, M. Blecka, R. Carlson, U. Carsenty, L. Colangeli, M. Combes, M. Combi, J. Crovisier, T. Encrenaz, C. Federico, U. Fink, S. Fonti, W. H. Ip, P. Irwin, R. Jaumann, E. Kuehrt, Y. Langevin, G. Magni, S. Mottola, V. Orofino, P. Palumbo, G. Piccioni, U. Schade, F. Taylor, D. Tiphene, G. P. Tozzi, P. Beck, N. Biver, L. Bonal, J. Ph Combe, D. Despan, E. Flamini, S. Fornasier, A. Frigeri, D. Grassi, M. Gudipati, A. Longobardo, K. Markus, F. Merlin, R. Orosei, G. Rinaldi, K. Stephan, M. Cartacci, A. Cicchetti, S. Giuppi, Y. Hello, F. Henry, S. Jacquinod, R. Noschese, G. Peter, R. Politi, J. M. Reess, A. Semery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

210 Scopus citations

Abstract

The VIRTIS (Visible, Infrared and Thermal Imaging Spectrometer) instrument on board the Rosetta spacecraft has provided evidence of carbon-bearing compounds on the nucleus of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The very low reflectance of the nucleus (normal albedo of 0.060 ± 0.003 at 0.55 micrometers), the spectral slopes in visible and infrared ranges (5 to 25 and 1.5 to 5% kÅ-1), and the broad absorption feature in the 2.9-to-3.6-micrometer range present across the entire illuminated surface are compatible with opaque minerals associated with nonvolatile organic macromolecular materials: a complex mixture of various types of carbon-hydrogen and/or oxygen-hydrogen chemical groups, with little contribution of nitrogen-hydrogen groups. In active areas, the changes in spectral slope and absorption feature width may suggest small amounts of water-ice. However, no ice-rich patches are observed, indicating a generally dehydrated nature for the surface currently illuminated by the Sun.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberaaa0628
JournalScience
Volume347
Issue number6220
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 23 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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    Capaccioni, F., Coradini, A., Filacchione, G., Erard, S., Arnold, G., Drossart, P., De Sanctis, M. C., Bockelee-Morvan, D., Capria, M. T., Tosi, F., Leyrat, C., Schmitt, B., Quirico, E., Cerroni, P., Mennella, V., Raponi, A., Ciarniello, M., McCord, T., Moroz, L., ... Semery, A. (2015). The organic-rich surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as seen by VIRTIS/Rosetta. Science, 347(6220), [aaa0628]. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aaa0628