Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko: Hardening of the sub-surface layer

Kossacki K.J., Spohn T., Hagermann A., Kaufmann E., Kührt E.


260, 2015, 464-474, 10.1016/j.icarus.2015.07.024

From the operation of the MUPUS thermal probe Spohn et al. (2015) concluded that the material of the nucleus of 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko is likely to have a high strength, at least locally at the Philae landing site. In this work we consider the derived strength of the material in order to constrain its granulation. For this purpose we performed numerical simulations of the long-term sintering of ice–dust granular mixtures of different granulation, covered by a dust mantle. The dust mantle has a thickness of 0–16 cm, and a (pore size and temperature-dependent) thermal conductivity. According to our simulations a hardened layer at least a meter thick forms beneath the dust only when the grains are tens of microns in radius, or smaller.