Short-wavelength infrared (1.3-2.6 μm) observations of the nucleus of Comet 19P/Borrelly

L. A. Soderblom, D. T. Britt, R. H. Brown, B. J. Buratti, R. L. Kirk, T. C. Owen, R. V. Yelle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


During the last two minutes before closest approach of Deep Space 1 to Comet 19P/Borrelly, a long exposure was made with the short-wavelength infrared (SWIR) imaging spectrometer. The observation yielded 46 spectra covering 1.3-2.6 μm; the footprint of each spectrum was ∼160 m × width of the nucleus. Borrelly's highly variegated and extremely dark 8-km-long nucleus exhibits a strong red slope in its short-wavelength infrared reflection spectrum. This slope is equivalent to J-K and H-K colors of ∼0.82 and ∼0.43, respectively. Between 2.3-2.6 μm thermal emission is clearly detectable in most of the spectra. These data show the nucleus surface to be hot and dry; no trace of H2O ice was detected. The surface temperature ranged continuously across the nucleus from ≤300 K near the terminator to a maximum of ∼340 K, the expected sub-solar equilibrium temperature for a slowly rotating body. A single absorption band at ∼2.39 μm is quite evident in all of the spectra and resembles features seen in nitrogen-bearing organic molecules that are reasonable candidates for compositional components of cometary nuclei. However as of yet the source of this band is unknown.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-112
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004


  • 19P/Borrelly
  • Borrelly
  • Comet
  • Deep Space 1
  • H-K color
  • Imaging spectrometer
  • Infrared spectra
  • J-H color
  • JHK color
  • Nitrogen organic molecules
  • Nucleus
  • SWIR
  • Short-period comets
  • Short-wavelength infrared
  • Spectral absorption
  • Temperature
  • Thermal emission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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