Wise/neowise preliminary analysis and highlights of the 67P/Churyumov-gerasimenko near nucleus environs

James M. Bauer, Emily Kramer, A. K. Mainzer, Rachel Stevenson, Tommy Grav, Joseph R. Masiero, Russellg Walker, Yan R. Fernández, Karen J. Meech, Carey M. Lisse, Paul R. Weissman, Roc M. Cutri, Johnw Dailey, Frank J. Masci, David J. Tholen, George Pearman, Edward L. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


On 2010 January 18-19 and June 28-29, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft imaged the Rosetta mission target, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. We present a preliminary analysis of the images, which provide a characterization of the dust environment at heliocentric distances similar to those planned for the initial spacecraft encounter, but on the outbound leg of its orbit rather than the inbound. Broadband photometry yields low levels of CO2 production at a comet heliocentric distance of 3.32AU and no detectable production at 4.18AU. We find that at these heliocentric distances, large dust grains with mean grain diameters on the order of a millimeter or greater dominate the coma and evolve to populate the tail. This is further supported by broadband photometry centered on the nucleus, which yield an estimated differential dust particle size distribution with a power-law relation that is considerably shallower than average. We set a 3σ upper limit constraint on the albedo of the large-grain dust at ≤0.12. Our best estimate of the nucleus radius (1.82± 0.20km) and albedo (0.04± 0.01) are in agreement with measurements previously reported in the literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number18
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 10 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • comets: individual (67P)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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