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A Fully Kinetic Perspective on Weakly Active Comets: Asymmetric Outgassing

Presentation #218.05 in the session Comets: Coma, Nucleus, Dynamics (Oral Presentation)

Published onOct 23, 2023
A Fully Kinetic Perspective on Weakly Active Comets: Asymmetric Outgassing

For more than two years, ESA’s Rosetta mission measured the complex and ever-evolving plasma environment surrounding comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In this work, we explore the structure and dynamics of the near-comet plasma environment at steady state of a weakly active comet like 67P at 4 AU from the Sun. We directly compare the results of a spherically symmetric Haser model and an asymmetric outgassing profile that is inspired by the measurements from the ROSINA instrument onboard Rosetta during 67P’s weakly outgassing stages. We analyse the effects of the asymmetric profile for different rotation phases of nucleus with respect to the solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field direction. Using a fully kinetic semi-implicit particle-in-cell code, we characterise (1) the various ion and electron populations and their interactions, and (2) the implications to the mass-loading process caused by asymmetric outgassing. Our model complements observations by providing a full 3D picture that is directly relevant to help interpret the measurements made by the Rosetta Plasma Consortium instruments. In addition, understanding such details better is key to help disentangle the physical drivers active in the plasma environment of comets visited by future exploration missions.

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