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Compressive strength of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko derived from Philae surface contacts

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Güttler,  Carsten
Department Planets and Comets, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Max Planck Society;

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Tubiana,  Cecilia
Department Planets and Comets, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Max Planck Society;

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Sierks,  Holger
Department Planets and Comets, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Max Planck Society;

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Hilchenbach,  Martin
Department Planets and Comets, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Max Planck Society;

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Glassmeier,  Karl-Heinz
Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Heinisch, P., Auster, H.-U., Gundlach, B., Blum, J., Güttler, C., Tubiana, C., et al. (2019). Compressive strength of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko derived from Philae surface contacts. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 630: A2. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201833889.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-0A63-1
Abstract
Context. The landing and rebound of the Philae lander, which was part of the ESA Rosetta mission, enabled us to study the mechanical properties of the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, because we could use Philae as an impact probe. Aims. The aim is to approximate the descent and rebound trajectory of the Philae lander and use this information to derive the compressive strength of the surface material from the different surface contacts and scratches created during the final touchdown. Combined with laboratory measurements, this can give an insight into what comets are made of and how they formed. Methods. We combined observations from the ROMAP magnetometer on board Philae with observations made by the Rosetta spacecraft, particularly by the OSIRIS camera system and the RPC-MAG magnetometer. Additionally, ballistic trajectory and collision modeling was performed. These results are placed in context using laboratory measurements of the compressibility of different materials. Results. It was possible to reconstruct possible trajectories of Philae and determine that a pressure of ~100 Pa is enough to compress the surface material up to a depth of ~20 cm. Considering all errors, the derived compressive strength shows little dependence on location, with an overall upper limit for the surface compressive strength of ~800 Pa.