Planet Formation   Space Physics &
Space Sensorics
         figure: ESA

Rosetta - Scientific aims

As comets have not yet been analyzed in-situ, many questions concerning their structure and composition still remain unanswered. Therefor, the scientific objectives of the Rosetta mission are the followings:

The interaction between the comet and the solar wind can be characterized by plasma properties as for example plasma waves plasmaboundaries. It depends on the solar wind intensity, on the comets outgassing rate increasing with its vicinity to the sun and its potentially intrinsic magnetic field. The magnetic properties of comets could hint at its own origin: Up to now, it is not yet well understood, how and why dust and ice stuck together to form comets. Magnetic attraction could possibly have contributed to this process. Hence, both the orbiter as the lander are equipped with a combined

plasma and magnetometer experiment (RPC onboard the orbiter and ROMAP onboard the Lander). To estimate the required instruments sensitivity, numerical simulations concerning the interactions between the solar wind plasma and the comets ionosphere were performed at the Institut for Theoretical Physics. They shed light on the plasmaphysical environment of the comets nucleus. Besides the electromagnetic field distribution also energy spectra of the involved ion species are computed by these simulations. According to these simulations, C-G has to be classified as a "weak comet", meaning that the qualitative conditions in the plasma environment are significantly different in comparison to the classical description of a strong comet. Therefore, the simulations provide precious assistance at the mission planning as well as at the interpretation of the measurement results.

updated: 10/10/2007 IMPRESSUM webmaster responsible: Prof. Dr. K.-H. Glaßmeier