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A Sediment Budget for Comet 67P’s Imhotep Region

Presentation #408.02D in the session Comets: Nucleus (Oral Presentation)

Published onOct 23, 2023
A Sediment Budget for Comet 67P’s Imhotep Region

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko exhibits a pronounced hemispherical dichotomy in its surface morphology, such that the southern hemisphere displays more erosional features than the northern hemisphere [1,2]. This dichotomy arises from the comet’s orbital path and current spin axis orientation, where the southern hemisphere is exposed to much greater solar radiation than the northern hemisphere [3,4]. Consequently, it is generally assumed that particles are ejected from the southern hemisphere through sublimation and a significant fraction eventually descend as airfall, covering the northern terrains [5,6]. To investigate this south-to-north material transfer during the comet’s perihelion passage, we use photoclinometry to measure material redistribution within its most extensive smooth terrain deposit around the Imhotep region. However, our findings do not align with this expected trend. Instead, we show that local-scale processes substantially impact the erosion and accumulation of material, with one area experiencing net erosion while another nearby region, just a few dozen meters away, sees sediment buildup. Our analysis underscores the complex interplay of processes shaping Comet 67P’s surface, and likely comets more generally.


[1] Birch S.P.D, et al. 2017, MNRAS, 469 (Suppl_2)

[2] Vincent J.B., et al. 2017, MNRAS, 469 (Suppl_2)

[3] Keller H.U., et al. 2015, A&A, 583, A34

[4] Hu X., et al. 2017, A&A, 604, A114

[5] Thomas N., et al. 2015, A&A, 583, A17

[6] Keller H.U., et al. 2017, MNRAS, 469 (Suppl_2)

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