Cometary plasma environment studied by the Rosetta spacecraft
About the project
Comets are one of the least understood, small objects in our Solar System, made primarily of ice, dust and small rocks. When approaching Sun, parts of this material is being heated up and creates a coma - partially ionized atmosphere around a comet. This represents a very complex system actively interacting with the solar wind plasma.
Many essential questions on the nature of comets are likely to be answered by the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission to the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The Rosetta mission is unique, as it will accompany the comet for over a year, and it will be the first time ever the mankind will explore a comet With such a close inspection.
The section for Plasma and Space Physics at University of Oslo had a unique possibility to participate in planning and construction of instruments for Rosetta within the Rosetta Plasma Consortium (RPC). The PI of the proposal is a Co-investigator in the RPC Langmuir Probe (LAP) experiment Which opens for excellent access to data from all RPC instruments.
The objective in this project is to analyze data from the instruments on Rosetta and answer the major questions on the role of dust component in the stationary and dynamic plasma phenomena in the vicinity of the comet at various levels of the cometary activity. This will be the first time such an analysis is made, and the results will have impact on the studies of comets and other small objects in space and related dusty plasma phenomena. Data analysis will be supported by numerical simulations and laboratory experiments, as well as complementary results from sounding rocket experiments in naturally occurring mesospheric dusty plasmas.
The secondary objective is to understand the performance of electric probes under cometary dusty plasma conditions, which will have large impact on the experimental plasma studies and design and analysis of space experiments, including sounding rocket studies of the lower parts of the Earth ionosphere.
The Research Council of Norway, ROMFORSK programme
University of Tromsø
University of Boulder