Small Bodies and Dust — Open Session

The scope of this session covers all aspects of dwarf planets and small solar system objects, including comets, asteroids, meteoroids, and dust. Topics are not limited to but include dynamics, evolution, physical properties, and interactions. The presenters are invited to highlight results obtained from space missions, observations, laboratory studies, theory, and numerical simulations. This session also provides a forum for presenting future space instrumentation. We encourage presenting the research results taking into account the multi-disciplinarity of the field.

Co-organized by ST3
Convener: Jiri Pavlu | Co-conveners: Maria Gritsevich, Ingrid Mann
vPICO presentations
| Thu, 29 Apr, 14:15–17:00 (CEST)

vPICO presentations: Thu, 29 Apr

Chairpersons: Jakub Vaverka, Jiri Pavlu
Earth's atmosphere and meteoroids
Boris Strelnikov and the sounding rocket project PMWE team

A first sounding rocket campaign dedicated to investigate the creation mechanism of Polar Mesosphere Winter Echoes (PMWE) was conducted in April 2018 from the north Norwegian Andøya Space Center (69°N, 16°E). Two instrumented sounding rockets were launched on 13th and 18th of April under PMWE and no-PMWE conditions, respectively.

In this paper we give a brief summary of our current knowledge of PMWE and an overview of the PMWE sounding rocket mission. We describe and discuss some results of combined in situ and ground-based measurements which allow to check the existing PMWE theories.

Our measurements clearly show that the coherent structures in refractive index variations (forming PMWE) are accompanied by neutral air turbulence, which is reflected in small-scale structures (down to some meters) of neutral and electron density. We show that the behavior of the structures under investigation together with the atmospheric background is consistent with the interpretation, that PMWE were created by turbulence. Rocket measurements ultimately show that polar winter mesosphere is abounded with meteor smoke particles (MSP) and intermittent turbulent layers. Furthermore, it becomes clear that charged Meteor Smoke Particles (MSP) and background electron density can only enhance SNR, while turbulence is a prerequisite for their formation.

How to cite: Strelnikov, B. and the sounding rocket project PMWE team: PMWE creation mechanism inferred from sounding rocket measurements, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-4186,, 2021.

John Plane, Shane Daly, Wuhu Feng, Thomas Mangan, Michael Gerding, Juan Diego Carrillo Sanchez, and David Bones

The ablation of cosmic dust particles is a source of metallic vapours in planetary upper atmospheres. Recently, ground-based lidars have made the first observations of a layer of Ni atoms peaking around 86 km in the terrestrial atmosphere (in contrast, the layers of Na and Fe have been observed for several decades).  In order to understand these Ni layer observations, we have developed a new version of the Leeds Chemical Ablation Model (CAMBOD) to include a Ni-Fe-S metallic phase in addition to the bulk silicate phase. The validity of the new model was tested using our laboratory Meteoric Ablation Simulator, where micron-size meteoritic particles were flash heated to temperatures as high as 2700 K to simulate their atmospheric entry, and the ablating Ni atoms monitored by fast time-resolved laser induced fluorescence.

The first global atmospheric model of Ni (WACCM-Ni) was then developed with three components: the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM6); a meteoric input function derived by coupling an astronomical model of dust sources in the solar system with CABMOD; and a comprehensive set of neutral, ion-molecule and photochemical reactions pertinent to the chemistry of Ni in the upper atmosphere. The kinetics of these reactions were mostly measured in our laboratory, or else modelled theoretically using ab initio quantum calculations combined with statistical rate theory. WACCM-Ni simulates satisfactorily the observed neutral Ni layer peak height and width, as well as Ni+ ion measurements from rocket-borne mass spectrometry. The Ni layer is predicted to have a similar seasonal and latitudinal variation as the Fe layer, and its unusually broad bottom-side compared with Fe is caused by the relatively fast NiO + CO → Ni + CO2 reaction. The quantum yield for photon emission from the reaction between Ni and O3, which has been observed in the nightglow from space-based spectrometers, is estimated to be between 6 and 40%.

How to cite: Plane, J., Daly, S., Feng, W., Mangan, T., Gerding, M., Carrillo Sanchez, J. D., and Bones, D.: The Meteoric Ni Layer in the Upper Atmosphere, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12636,, 2021.

Emranul Sarkar, Thomas Ulich, Ilkka Virtanen, Mark Lester, and Bernd Kaifler

For two decades meteor radars have been routinely used to monitor atmospheric temperatures around the 90 km altitude. A common method, based on a temperature-gradient model, is to use the height dependence of meteor decay time to obtain a height-averaged temperature in the peak meteor region. Traditionally this is done by  fitting a linear regression model in the scattered plot of  log10(1/tau) and height, where ’tau’ is the half-amplitude decay time of the received signal. However, this method was found to be consistently biasing the slope estimate. The consequence of such bias is that it produces a  systematic offset in the estimated temperature, and thus requiring calibration with other colocated measurements. The main reason for such a biasing effect is thought to be due to the failure of the classical regression model to take into account the measurement error in decay time or the observed height. This is further complicated by the presence of various geophysical effects in the data, as well as observational limitation in the measuring instruments. We demonstrate an alternative regression method that incorporates various error terms in the statistical model. An initial estimate of the slope parameter is obtained by assuming symmetric error variances in normalised height and log10(1/tau). This solution is found to be a good prior solution for the core of this bivariate distribution. However, depending on the data selection process the error variances may not be exactly equal. A first-order correction is then carried out to address the biasing effect due to asymmetric error variances. This allows to construct an analytic solution for the bias-corrected slope coefficient for this data. With this solution, meteor radar temperatures can be obtained independently without using any external calibration procedure. When compared with colocated lidar measurements, the temperature estimated using this method is found to be accurate within 7% or better and without any systematic offset.

How to cite: Sarkar, E., Ulich, T., Virtanen, I., Lester, M., and Kaifler, B.: Solving the long-standing problem of estimating the atmospheric temperature at 90 km altitude with meteor radar, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14760,, 2021.

Hervé Lamy

BRAMS (Belgian RAdio Meteor Stations) is a Belgian radio network using forward scatter observations to detect and characterize meteoroids. A dedicated transmitter located in south of Belgium emits a CW signal with no modulation at a frequency of 49.97 MHz and with a power of 130 W. The network comprises currently 35 similar receiving stations located in Belgium and neighboring countries. They use Yagi antennas with a wide sensitivity pattern which therefore provide no information about the directivity of the meteor echoes. One of these stations is however a radio interferometer using the classical Jones configuration and is able to retrieve the direction of the meteor echoes.

We discuss here a general method to retrieve meteoroid trajectories based solely on time delays measured between meteor echoes recorded at multiple receiving stations. It is based on solving at least 6 non-linear equations to solve for the position of one specular reflection point (3 unknowns) and the 3 components of the speed. This method has also been described recently in Mazur et al (2020) and applied to CMOR data. However, specificities of the CMOR configuration has allowed simplifications that cannot be made with the BRAMS network. In order to maximize the number of meteoroid trajectories with at least 6 stations detecting meteor echoes, a number of additional stations geographically close to each other have been installed in the Limburg province in 2020. Another method to retrieve meteoroid trajectories using data from the radio interferometer and from 3 other stations is also presented.

We show preliminary results from both methods using also complementary data from the optical CAMS Benelux network.  The CAMS trajectories are used to select specific meteor echoes in the BRAMS data. The time delays between them are computed and used to solve the set of non-linear equations to retrieve the meteoroid trajectory and speed, which are then compared to the CAMS values. This allows us to assess the accuracy of both methods.

Finally we simulate the impact of using additional information, not currently available but that might become in a near future. This includes data from a monostatic system (a radar nearby our BRAMS transmitter is currently built), from a second radio interferometer (to be located in Limburg and/or near the transmitter), or the total range traveled by the radio wave if a coded CW transmitter such as in Vierinen et al (2016) is used.

How to cite: Lamy, H.: Meteoroid trajectories from BRAMS data, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14249,, 2021.

Juha Vierinen, Torsten Aslaksen, Jorge Chau, Maria Gritsevich, Björn Gustavsson, Daniel Kastinen, Johan Kero, Alexandre Kozlovsky, Derek McKay, Steinar Midtskogen, Thomas Ulich, and Ketil Vegum

Meteoroids entering the Earth's atmosphere are associated with a number of phenomena including ablation, ambipolar diffusion, plasma transport, chemical reactions, shock waves, and plasma turbulence. A bright daylight fireball observed on 2020-12-04 13:30 UTC with two meteor cameras located in Skibotn and Sørreisa allowed the precise entry trajectory of the fireball to be determined. The path of the entering object is approximately between Angeli Finland and Pajala Sweden. Based on the brightness and entry trajectory, it is possible to estimate the approximate mass of the object, and associate it with a meteor shower (Northern Taurids). The effects of the fireball on the atmosphere were detected with a number of radar and radio instruments within the region, including ionosondes, meteor radars, an all-sky VHF imaging system, and an infrasound sensor. These observations allow a detailed study of the atmospheric interaction of a large meteoric body with the Earth's atmosphere to be made. In this talk, we will describe the observations of this fireball and discuss preliminary findings.

How to cite: Vierinen, J., Aslaksen, T., Chau, J., Gritsevich, M., Gustavsson, B., Kastinen, D., Kero, J., Kozlovsky, A., McKay, D., Midtskogen, S., Ulich, T., and Vegum, K.: Pajala Fireball, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14715,, 2021.

Maria Gritsevich and Jarmo Moilanen

As of today, instrumentally observed meteorite falls account for only 37 recovered meteorite cases, with derived Solar System orbit, out of 65098 registered meteorite names. To bridge this knowledge gap, a number of fireball networks have been set up around the globe. These networks regularly obtain thousands of records of well-observed meteor phenomena, some of which may be classified as a likely meteorite fall (Sansom et al. 2019). A successful recovery of a meteorite from the fireball event often requires that the science team can be promptly directed to a well-defined search area. Here we present a neat Monte Carlo model, which comprises adequate representation of the processes occurring during the luminous trajectory coupled together with the dark flight (Moilanen et al. 2021). In particular, the model accounts for fragmentation and every generated fragment may be followed on its individual trajectory. Yet, the algorithm accounts only for the mass constrained by the observed deceleration, so that the model does not overestimate the total mass of the fragments on the ground (and this mass may also be retrieved as zero). We demonstrate application of the model using historical examples of well-documented meteorite falls, which illustrate a good match to the actual strewn field with the recovered meteorites, both, in terms of fragments’ masses and their spatial distribution on the ground. Moreover, during its development, the model has already assisted in several successful meteorite recoveries including Annama, Botswana (asteroid 2018 LA), and Ozerki (Trigo-Rodríguez et al. 2015, Lyytinen and Gritsevich 2016, Maksimova et al. 2020, Jenniskens et al. 2021).


Jenniskens P. et al. (2021). Asteroid 2018 LA, impact, recovery and origin on Vesta. Submitted to Science.

Lyytinen E., Gritsevich M. (2016). Implications of the atmospheric density profile in the processing of fireball observations. Planetary and Space Science, 120, 35-42

Maksimova A.A., Petrova E.V., Chukin A.V., Karabanalov M.S., Felner I., Gritsevich M., Oshtrakh M.I. (2020). Characterization of the matrix and fusion crust of the recent meteorite fall Ozerki L6. Meteoritics and Planetary Science 55(1), 231–244, 

Moilanen J., Gritsevich M., Lyytinen E. (2021). Determination of strewn fields for meteorite falls. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, in revision.

Sansom E.K., Gritsevich M., Devillepoix H.A.R., Jansen-Sturgeon T., Shober P., Bland P.A., Towner M.C., Cupák M., Howie R.M., Hartig B.A.D. (2019). Determining fireball fates using the α-β criterion. The Astrophysical Journal 885, 115,

Trigo-Rodríguez J.M., Lyytinen E., Gritsevich M., Moreno-Ibáñez M., Bottke W.F., Williams I., Lupovka V., Dmitriev V., Kohout T., Grokhovsky V. (2015). Orbit and dynamic origin of the recently recovered Annama’s H5 chondrite. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 449 (2): 2119-2127,

How to cite: Gritsevich, M. and Moilanen, J.: A composite luminous and dark flight model allowing strewn field prediction, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15687,, 2021.

Space debris and planetary protection
Diego De Blasi

International cooperation has definitely been shaping the development of the Corpus Juris Spatialis and relative principles under the aegis of the United Nations (see A/Res/1962/XVIII). To this extent, the concept of space as global commons represents the core debate of Space Agencies (ESA), whilst manned and unmanned exploration of the universe are flying to next generation. On the other hand, all space activities will be reasonably linked to both anthropic and natural risks: other effective provisional advancements in international space law are so much needed to addressing space debris and planetary defense as common global challenges

First of all, the space debris issue is susceptible to fostering the aferomentioned level of innovation in space law by these multilateral efforts. All “composite material components” accumulating in considerable amount in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO/collinear Lagrangian points) may possibly lead the way to a comprehensive review of the terms laid down in the Outer Space Treaty (ex plurimis, article IX). Morevover, the further existence of international customary law, which is notably ascertained “as evidence of a general practice accepted as law” (art. 38, let. b, ICJ Statute), might also create hermeneutical tools to tackling such critical task. In addition, a long-term solution may hopefully give birth to the establishment of an international agreement on space debris clearing, providing for adequate international binding norms and structural organization of international guidelines (IADC/UNOOSA) 

Secondly, planetary defense measures vis-à-vis the so called “Cosmic Hazard” shall be carried out by emphasizing the application of international space law and regulations thereto. In particular, the legal use of explosive devices (NED) may be found as slightly critical in light of the applicable international norms and regulations. Moreover, cosmic hazard issues also engage with a very complex level of decision making, to be carried out by a specific vote of the United Nation Security Council (UNSC) in application of the procedure laid down in article 27 of the UN Charter. On the other side, this particular dilemma may call upon States to undertake responses against natural space threats by preventing potential liability of the States (see article VII OST and International Liability Convention for Damages caused by Space Objects)

Eiusmodo, the liability conventional framework shall either have some comprehensive interpretation of the principle of “vis major (quae humana infirmitas resistere non potest)”. In compliance with article II, it must be noticed that failing attempts by Parties- whenever space threats may be encountered in different circumstances  - connects directly with the regime of absolute responsibility for eventual damages occurred to third Parties.

To be concluded, both space debris and planetary defense stand together as resilient pillars of international cooperation in space affairs: the accountable exploration of outer space shall previously take also into account of such perspectives for the exclusive benefit of Mankind  



How to cite: De Blasi, D.: From space debris to planetary defense: a provisional ground for resilient international cooperation in outer space activities  , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-492,, 2021.

Özgür Karatekin, Birgit Ritter, Jose Carrasco, Matthias Noeker, Ertan Umit, Emiel Vanransbeeck, Higinio Alaves, Elisa Tasev, Marta Goli, Stefaan Van waal, and Hannah Goldberg

In the frame work of HERA mission, the gravimeter for small solar system objects (GRASS) has been developed to measure the local acceleration vector on the surface of the moonlet of the binary asteroid, Dimorphos. GRASS will be onboard Juventas CubeSat which is one of the two daughtercraft of ESA’s Hera spacecraft. Launched in 2024 it will arrive in the binary system in 2026. Following the soft-landing of the Juventas CubeSat, GRASS will record the temporal variation of the surface gravity vector.

The average gravitational force expected on the Dimorphos surface is around 5 x 10-5 m s-2 (or 5 mGal). Apart from the self-gravitation of the body, centrifugal forces and the acceleration due to the main body of the system contribute to the surface acceleration. The temporal variations of local gravity vector at the landing site will be used to constrain the geological substructure (mass anomalies, local depth and lateral variations of regolith) as well as the surface geophysical environment (tides, dynamic sloped and centrifugal forces).

We will present the GRASS science objectives in the Hera mission the operational concept that is foreseen to reach these objectives, its current status of development including first test results and the by simulation estimated performances of the instrument.


How to cite: Karatekin, Ö., Ritter, B., Carrasco, J., Noeker, M., Umit, E., Vanransbeeck, E., Alaves, H., Tasev, E., Goli, M., Van waal, S., and Goldberg, H.: Surface gravimetry on Dimorphos  , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15901,, 2021.

Paolo Tortora, Marco Zannoni, Edoardo Gramigna, Riccardo Lasagni Manghi, Sebastien Le Maistre, Ryan S. Park, Giacomo Tommei, Ozgur Karatekin, Hannah Goldberg, Paolo Martino, Paolo Concari, Michael Kueppers, Patrick Michel, and Ian Carnelli

The Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) is an international collaboration supported by ESA and NASA to assess the feasibility of the kinetic impactor technique to deflect an asteroid, combining data obtained from NASA’s DART and ESA’s Hera missions. Together the missions represent the first humankind’s investigations of a planetary defense technique. In 2022, DART will impact Dimorphos, the secondary of the binary near-Earth asteroid (65803) Didymos.  After 4 years, Hera will follow-up with a detailed post-impact survey of Didymos, to fully characterize and validate this planetary defense technique. In addition, Hera will deploy two CubeSats around Didymos once the Early Characterization Phase has completed, to augment the observations of the mother spacecraft. Juventas, the first Cubesat, will complete a low-frequency radar survey of the secondary, to unveil its interior. Milani, the second Cubesat, will perform a global mapping of Didymos and Dimorphos, with a focus on their compositional difference and their surface properties. One of the main objectives of Hera is to determine the binary system’s mass, gravity field, and dynamical state using radio tracking data in combination with imaging data. The gravity science experiment includes classical ground-based radiometric measurements between Hera and ground stations on Earth by means of a standard two-way X-band link, onboard images of Didymos, and spacecraft-to-spacecraft inter-satellite (ISL) radiometric tracking between Hera and the Cubesats. The satellite-to-satellite link is a crucial add-on to the gravity estimation of low-gravity bodies by exploiting the Cubesats’ proximity to the binary, as the range-rate measurements carried out by the inter-satellite link contain information on the dynamics of the system, i.e., masses and gravity field of Didymos primary and secondary.

We will describe the updated mission scenario for the Hera radio science experiment to be jointly carried out by the three mission elements, i.e., Hera, Juventas and Milani. To conclude, our updated analysis and latest results, as well as the achievable accuracy for the estimation of the mass and gravity field of Didymos and Dimorphos, are presented.

How to cite: Tortora, P., Zannoni, M., Gramigna, E., Lasagni Manghi, R., Le Maistre, S., Park, R. S., Tommei, G., Karatekin, O., Goldberg, H., Martino, P., Concari, P., Kueppers, M., Michel, P., and Carnelli, I.: Didymos Gravity Science Investigations through Ground-based and Inter-Satellite Links Doppler Tracking, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14898,, 2021.

Hiu Ching Jupiter Cheng and Christian Klimczak

The Dawn mission at Asteroid 4 Vesta revealed two sets of enormous linear structures. Both sets are troughs—linear, negative-relief landforms—with one spanning around at least two-thirds of the equator and the other set incompletely preserved in the northern hemisphere. A previous study evaluated the cross-sectional geometries of the troughs and interpreted them as analogous to grabens, which are landforms caused by normal faults. However, for the troughs to be large-scale opening-mode fractures, i.e., joints, was heretofore not considered. To distinguish between normal faulting and jointing, we investigated the map patterns, cross-sectional geometries, and variations of relief and width along the length of these troughs. Relief and width are meaningful measurands that causally relate to the vertical displacement of faults or aperture of joints, respectively. Their distributions along the trough length should thus reveal differences in fracturing behavior. In addition, we derived strength-depth profiles to characterize the rheologic structure of Vesta’s lithosphere and determine the predicted fracturing behavior in its brittle regime.

We mapped all large-scale troughs on Vesta, including four equatorial and two northern troughs, and no map patterns diagnostic for faulting were identified. The troughs are bounded by scalloped rims and mainly show V- and bowl shapes in cross-section. The variation of reliefs of the two-opposing trough-bounding scarps reveals that the relief maxima for each of the investigated troughs are located off-center, and at different locations along the trough they bound. In contrast, we found that both the individual and cumulative variations in trough width have their maxima near the center of the trough. These map patterns and geomorphologic characteristics are largely inconsistent with the mechanics of graben formation but instead point to an origin by opening-mode fracturing. Moreover, our calculations of lithospheric strength evolution that enable assessments of fracturing behavior reveal that Vesta’s lithosphere has been dominated by a thick brittle portion throughout its history. Solutions to the Coulomb criterion considering a range of strengths properties of intact to fractured basaltic materials are in support of jointing as the major fracturing mode in at least the upper ~14 km of Vesta’s lithosphere.

How to cite: Cheng, H. C. J. and Klimczak, C.: The large-scale troughs on Asteroid 4 Vesta are opening-mode fractures, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-79,, 2020.

Jean-Pierre Bibring, Tatsuaki Okada, Cédric Pilorget, Kasumi Yogata, Rosario Brunetto, Lucie Riu, Vincent Hamm, Aiko Nakato, Kentaro Hatakeda, Damien Loizeau, Toru Yada, and and the MicrOmega team

The JAXA Hayabusa2 mission has very impressively collected and returned more than 5 g of samples from the C-type Ryugu asteroid early December, 2020, all presently secured within the Extraterrestrial Sample Curation Center at ISAS, Sagamihara, Japan. Their characterization is being performed, using an optical microscope, a FTIR point spectrometer and MicrOmega, a hyperspectral microscope acquiring from each 22 µm pixel of its 256x250 pixels FOV, the full spectrum from 0.99 to 3.6 µm (+ 4 additional visible spectral channels, at 595, 643, 770 and 885 nm). Preliminary results acquired with MicOmega will be presented, and their interpretation discussed.

How to cite: Bibring, J.-P., Okada, T., Pilorget, C., Yogata, K., Brunetto, R., Riu, L., Hamm, V., Nakato, A., Hatakeda, K., Loizeau, D., Yada, T., and MicrOmega team, A. T.: Hayabusa2 returned samples: first analyses from the MicrOmega/curation investigation , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14167,, 2021.

Chairpersons: Maria Gritsevich, Ingrid Mann
Sana Ahmed and Kinsuk Acharyya

Comets show a general diversity in their parent volatile composition, but in most cases H2O is observed to be the dominant volatile in terms of abundance. This is followed by CO and CO2, and trace amounts of other species such as CH4, CH3OH, O2, and NH3 are also present. However, the observed ratio of n_x/H2O varies considerably from one comet to another (n_x represents any parent species other than water).

We aim to study how the chemistry and dynamics of the cometary coma changes for varying abundances of the major parent volatiles. We have constructed a fluid model, using the principles of conservation of mass, momentum and energy, for our study. Parent volatiles sublimating from the nucleus undergo photolytic reactions due to the solar UV radiation field, resulting in the formation of secondary neutral and ionic species and photoelectrons. Active chemistry occurs in the coma, and some of the chemical reactions taking place are ion-neutral rearrangement, charge exchange, dissociative recombination, electron impact dissociation and radiative de-excitation. The energy that is released due to these chemical reactions is non-uniformly distributed amongst all the species, resulting in different temperatures. Hence,  for a complete description of the coma, we have used a multifluid model whereby the neutrals, ions and electrons are considered as three separate fluids. Apart from chemical reactions, we have also considered the exchange of energy between the three fluids due to elastic and inelastic collisions.

We consider different initial compositions of the comet, and then use our model to generate the temperature and velocity profiles of the coma, for varying cometocentric distances. We also obtain the number density profiles of the different ionic and neutral species that are created in the coma. We see that changes in the initial parent volatile abundance will modify the temperature profile, and there are significant changes in the ionic abundances. Hence, the parent volatile composition of the comet drives the physico-chemical attributes of the coma.

How to cite: Ahmed, S. and Acharyya, K.: Multifluid modelling of cometary coma for diverse range of parent volatile compositions, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14559,, 2021.

Benoit Hubert, Guy Munhoven, Youssef Moulane, Damien Hutsemekers, Jean Manfroid, Cyrielle Opitom, Emmanuel Jehin, Shohei Aoki, Lauriane Soret, Leonardos Gkouvelis, and Jean-Claude Gérard

Line-of-sight integration of emissions from planetary and cometary atmospheres is the Abel transform of the emission rate, under the spherical symmetry assumption. Indefinite integrals constructed from the Abel transform integral are useful for implementing remote sensing data analysis methods, such as the numerical inverse Abel transform giving the volume emission rate compatible with the observation. We obtain analytical expressions based on a suitable, non-alternating, series development to compute those indefinite integrals. We establish expressions allowing absolute accuracy control of the convergence of these series depending on the number of terms involved. We compare the analytical method with numerical computation techniques, which are found to be sufficiently accurate as well. Inverse Abel transform fitting is then tested in order to establish that the expected emission rate profiles can be retrieved from the observation of both planetary and cometary atmospheres. We show that the method is robust, especially when Tikhonov regularization is included, although it must be carefully tuned when the observation varies across many orders of magnitude. A first application is conducted over observation of comet 46P/Wirtanen, showing some variability possibly attributable to an evolution of the contamination by dust and icy grains. A second application is considered to deduce the 557.7 nm volume emission rate profile of the metastable oxygen atom in the upper atmosphere of planet Mars.

How to cite: Hubert, B., Munhoven, G., Moulane, Y., Hutsemekers, D., Manfroid, J., Opitom, C., Jehin, E., Aoki, S., Soret, L., Gkouvelis, L., and Gérard, J.-C.: Abel transform of exponential functions for planetary and cometary atmospheres with application to observation of 46P/Wirtanen and to the OI 557.7 nm emission at Mars., EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9244,, 2021.

Nora Hänni, Kathrin Altwegg, Daniel Müller, Boris Pestoni, Martin Rubin, and Susanne Wampfler

While the volatile species in comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko’s coma have been analyzed in great spatial and temporal detail, e.g., Rubin et al. (2019) or Läuter et al. (2020), little is so far known about the less volatile, heavier species. There is growing evidence, however, that less volatile species, such as salts, may play a key role in explaining some of the puzzling properties of comets, as for instance shown by Altwegg et al. (2020). These authors also have demonstrated the unique capability of ROSINA/DFMS (Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis/ Double Focusing Mass Spectrometer; Balsiger et al. (2007)) to detect exactly such little volatile species in-situ, namely during a dust event on 5 September 2016 (when a dust grain entered the instrument and sublimated inside).

Complementary information on 67P’s dusty coma can be obtained from data collected during time periods of high dust activity. A clear advantage of such data is they also allow for a quantitative interpretation thanks to the much more stable measurement conditions. Moreover, a comparison to data collected during a time period of little dust activity (e.g., to the days around end of May 2015 as in Rubin et al. 2019) also allows to link species to dust.

End of July / beginning of August 2015, the comet was approaching its perihelion and ejecting a lot of dust, as seen by the OSIRIS camera (Vincent et al. 2016). The data from this period are therefore a promising starting point for the search of heavier species (m > 100 Da). Altwegg et al. (2019), for instance, reported on the tentative identifications of the simplest polyaromatic hydrocarbon species naphthalene as well as of benzoic acid, the simplest aromatic carboxylic acid. To confirm these identifications and to achieve a more complete inventory of heavier and chemically more complex species, we are now analyzing these data sets strategically. In our contribution we will share what we have learned from pushing the exploration of 67P’s dusty coma.


Altwegg et al., 2020, Nat. Astron., 4, 533-540.
Altwegg et al., 2019, Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys., 57, 113-55.
Balsiger H. et al., 2007, Space Sci. Rev., 128, 745-801.
Läuter et al., 2020, MNRAS, 498, 3, 3995-4004.
Rubin et al., 2019, MNRAS, 489, 594-607. Vincent et al., 2016, MNRAS, 462 (Suppl_1), 184-194.

How to cite: Hänni, N., Altwegg, K., Müller, D., Pestoni, B., Rubin, M., and Wampfler, S.: Analyzing 67P’s dusty coma, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1719,, 2021.

Frederik Dhooghe, Johan De Keyser, Nora Hänni, Kathrin Altwegg, Gaël Cessateur, Emmanuel Jehin, Martin Rubin, and Peter Wurz

A full-mission analysis of Cl-bearing species in the coma of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has been conducted using data from the Rosetta ROSINA/DFMS mass spectrometer. This contribution will focus on the challenges encountered to relate DFMS data on Cl-bearing species to the neutral abundances at the comet.

DFMS was operated in neutral mode, in which electron impact ionizes a fraction of the incoming neutral gas in the ion source. Only ions in a narrow range around a certain commanded mass-over-charge ratio (m/z) pass through the mass analyser at a time and impact on a micro-channel plate (MCP), creating an electron avalanche that is recorded by a Linear Electron Detector Array chip with two rows of 512 pixels each (LEDA A and LEDA B). Data are obtained as Analog-to-Digital Converter (ADC) counts as a function of LEDA pixel number. The instrument scans over a sequence of m/z values.

A well-defined approach exists to convert ADC counts as a function of pixel number to the number of ions that were detected on the MCP. However, to relate the number of ions detected this way to the abundance of neutrals in the coma gas, the sensitivity for each neutral needs to be known. The sensitivity for a certain neutral takes into account the total ionization cross section for the neutral and product ion fraction, instrument transmission and secondary electron yield for each product ion. Sensitivities can be determined experimentally by introducing the neutrals in the DFMS instrument copy in the laboratory, but such data are not available for Cl-bearing species and an alternative approach needs to be used. Fortunately, the use of ratios cancels out some of the factors that play a role in the sensitivity. As an example, for the 37Cl/35Cl ratio, total ionization cross sections and product ion fractions can be considered identical. In the case of 37Cl/35Cl, taking into account the sensitivity results in a correction of more than 15%, mainly due to the secondary electron yield.

The 37Cl/35Cl ratio does not appear to change appreciably throughout the mission and is compared with known values from other solar system objects. The Cl/HCl ratio obtained with DFMS indicates that there must be at least one additional chlorine-bearing species on the comet next to HCl, CH3Cl and NH4Cl, the identity of which is unknown at this time.

How to cite: Dhooghe, F., De Keyser, J., Hänni, N., Altwegg, K., Cessateur, G., Jehin, E., Rubin, M., and Wurz, P.: Chlorine-bearing species and the 37Cl/35Cl isotope ratio in the coma of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10601,, 2021.

Riccardo Lasagni Manghi, Marco Zannoni, Paolo Tortora, Michael Küppers, Laurence O'Rourke, Patrick Martin, Stefano Mottola, Frank Budnik, Ruaraidh Mackenzie, Bernard Godard, Laurent Jorda, Olivier Groussin, and Nicolas Thomas

Following its arrival at 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August 2014, the Rosetta spacecraft successfully navigated in proximity of the comet for two years, using a combination of radiometric measurements and optical images collected by the onboard navigation cameras.

The reconstructed spacecraft and comet trajectories were obtained combining several long-arc and short-arc orbit determination solutions generated by ESOC Flight Dynamics during the Rosetta operations. Several discontinuities are present within these trajectories, due to the lack of a dynamical model for the representation of the comet Non-Gravitational Accelerations (NGA).

The work presented in this study represents an effort to produce an accurate and continuous ephemeris reconstruction for comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko for the period between July 2014 and October 2016, through a complete reanalysis of the Range and ΔDOR measurements collected by Rosetta during its proximity phase with the comet.

Using as input the reconstructed relative orbit of Rosetta, the radiometric observables were mapped to the comet nucleus and used to estimate the comet state and some key physical and observational parameters within a Square Root Information batch filter implemented in MONTE, most notably the NGA acting on the comet nucleus due to surface outgassing.

Several orbit determination solutions were generated by varying the model used to represent the NGA. More specifically, empirical and stochastic models were compared by evaluating the reduced χ2 statistics of the measurement residuals to identify the most suitable trajectory estimations for each of the proposed models. From this narrow list of solutions, a preliminary selection for the final ephemeris reconstruction is proposed, based on its adherence to the original ESOC trajectory and on the consistency of the formal state uncertainties with the estimated solutions.

It will be shown that the selected ephemeris solution, using a piecewise linear stochastic NGA model with intervals between 3 and 4 weeks, produces a continuous ephemeris reconstruction for 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko with maximum formal uncertainties around perihelion of σpos ≅ [20 km, 30 km, 200 km] in the Radial-Tangential-Normal reference frame. The advantage of using simple stochastic models, with limited a-priori assumptions on the involved physical processes, is that they allow to produce an unbiased estimation of the NGA variations around perihelion, which represent a valuable input for further investigations involving detailed physical models of the cometary activity.

How to cite: Lasagni Manghi, R., Zannoni, M., Tortora, P., Küppers, M., O'Rourke, L., Martin, P., Mottola, S., Budnik, F., Mackenzie, R., Godard, B., Jorda, L., Groussin, O., and Thomas, N.: Accurate ephemeris reconstruction for comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from Rosetta data analysis, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14765,, 2021.

A.Chantal Levasseur-Regourd, Edith Hadamcik, Jérémie Lasue, Julien Milli, and Jean-Baptiste Renard

The ESA-JAXA Comet Interceptor mission is expected to flyby a dynamically new comet (or an interstellar one) and better reveal the properties of its dust particles and nucleus surface. We therefore tentatively compare polarimetric properties of dust released by some comets, as well as present on surfaces of some small bodies.

Phase curves of the linear polarization of cometary dust particles (observed in equivalent wavelength ranges) show analogous trends. Some unique dynamically new comets or fragmenting comets (e.g. C/1995 O1 Hale-Bopp, C/1999 S4 LINEAR) may nevertheless present a higher positive branch than Halley-type or Jupiter-family comets (e.g. 1P/Halley, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko). Such differences are clues to differences in the properties (sizes, morphologies, complex optical indices) of the dust particles. Dust particles, ejected by nuclei frequently plunging in the inner Solar System, might indeed partly come from quite dense a surface layer, as detected on the small lobe of comet 67P by Rosetta [1].

Although polarimetric observations of surfaces of cometary nuclei are almost impossible, observations of the rather quiescent nucleus of 1P/Encke have been obtained [2].  Similarities between polarimetric properties of 1P/Encke and atypical small bodies (e.g. Phaeton and particularly Bennu [3]), and of dust in cometary comae may be pointed out. Numerical and laboratory simulations could represent a unique tool to better understand such similarities. It may also be added that dust particles originating from comets, with emphasis on those of Jupiter-family, may survive atmospheric entry, as CP-IDPs collected in the Earth’s stratosphere, and that dust found in debris disks of stellar systems shows levels of polarization similar to those of highly-polarized comets [4].


[1] Kofman et al., MNRAS, 497, 2616-2622, 2020, [2] Boehnhardt et al., A&A, 489, 1337-1343, 2008. [3] Cellino et al., MNRAS, 481, L49-L53, 2018. [4] Levasseur-Regourd et al., PSS, 186, 104896, 2020,


How to cite: Levasseur-Regourd, A. C., Hadamcik, E., Lasue, J., Milli, J., and Renard, J.-B.: In the context of Comet Interceptor: Unexpected polarimetric properties of some dust particles in cometary comae and on small bodies surfaces, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10426,, 2021.

Dust in space...
Jakub Vaverka, Jiří Pavlů, Libor Nouzák, Samuel Kočiščák, Jana Šafránková, Zdeněk Němeček, David Píša, Jan Souček, Arnaud Zaslavsky, Ingrid Mann, Milan Maksimovic, Stuart Bale, and Per-Arne Linqvist

The dust impact detection by electric field instruments is already a well-established technique. On the other hand, not all aspects of signal generation by dust impacts and its consequent detection are completely understood and explained. It has been shown that the design and configuration (monopole/dipole) of the electric field antennas/probes are very important for dust impact detection and understanding of the measured signal. Therefore, it is not straightforward to compare detected signals by various spacecraft. Most of space missions use at the same time either monopole or dipole antenna configuration. However, the MMS simultaneous monopole and dipole measurements provide us with interesting information about dust impact signals. We have analyzed individual electric field waveforms of dust impacts detected by Solar Orbiter, Parker Solar Probe, and MMS to understand similarities and differences of dust detection by various spacecraft with different antenna designs and configurations. This understanding will allow us to reliably compare obtained dust fluxes among individual missions.  

How to cite: Vaverka, J., Pavlů, J., Nouzák, L., Kočiščák, S., Šafránková, J., Němeček, Z., Píša, D., Souček, J., Zaslavsky, A., Mann, I., Maksimovic, M., Bale, S., and Linqvist, P.-A.: Dust Grain Detection by Solar Orbiter, Parker Solar Probe, and Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) Mission — Similarities and Differences, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8959,, 2021.

Lina Hadid, Oleg Shebanits, Jan-Erik Wahlund, Michiko Morooka, Andrew Nagy, William M. Farrell, Mika Holmberg, Ronan Modolo, Ann Persoon, and Wendy Tseng

It is well known that in the magnetosphere of the outer planets (eg. Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune), even in the absence of an electric current, a polarization electric field develops as a consequence of charge separation in a plasma, providing a restoring force to maintain charge neutrality. It is also well established that certain regions of these planetary systems (ionosphere, icy moons, rings) are populated by significant amount of charged dust that play an important role in the physical and chemical processes in the surrounding plasma environment.
In the present work, we study the effect of the charged dust grains on the polarization electric field using Saturn’s F-ring region as a case study. We derive a general expression for E parallel to the magnetic field (E_para) and then using the Cassini RPWS/LP measurements we estimate for the first time in situ E_para close to Janus/Epimetheus ring during the F ring grazing orbits. We further demonstrate that the presence of charged dust,  as small as nanometers in size, can significantly influence the plasma transport processes, in particular the ambipolar diffusion along the magnetic field lines. We show that, close to the ring plane (Z <0.1 Rs), the dusty plasma amplifies E_para by at least one order of magnitude and reverses its direction. Such a reversal implies a confinement of the electrons above the equatorial plane. Furthermore, we show a clear correlation between the amplification of the ambipolar eletrostatic field and the ions and electrons number densities, that could be used in other dusty environments where in-situ measurements are not available yet (in our solar system or the interstellar medium).

How to cite: Hadid, L., Shebanits, O., Wahlund, J.-E., Morooka, M., Nagy, A., Farrell, W. M., Holmberg, M., Modolo, R., Persoon, A., and Tseng, W.: Ambipolar electrostatic field in negatively charged dusty plasma, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12698,, 2021.

Jiří Pavlů, Samuel Kočiščák, Åshild Fredriksen, Michael DeLuca, and Zoltan Sternovsky

We experimentally observe both positive and negative charge carriers in impact plasma and estimate their effective temperatures. The measurements are carried on a dust accelerator using polypyrrole (PPy)-coated olivine dust particles impacting tungsten (W) target in the velocity range of 2–18 km/s. We measure the retained impact charge as a function of applied bias potential to the control grid. The temperatures are estimated from the data fit. The estimated effective temperatures of the positive ions are approximately 7 eV and seems to be independent of the impact speed. The negative charge carriers' temperatures vary from as low as 1 eV for the lowest speeds to almost ten times higher speeds. The presented values differ significantly from previous studies using Fe dust particles. Yet, the discrepancy can be attributed to a larger fraction of negative ions in the impact plasma that likely originates from the PPy coating.

How to cite: Pavlů, J., Kočiščák, S., Fredriksen, Å., DeLuca, M., and Sternovsky, Z.: The Effective Temperature of Dust Impact Plasmas — Olivine Dust on Tungsten Target, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14909,, 2021.

...and in the vicinity of Saturn
Libor Nouzak, Jiří Pavlů, Jakub Vaverka, Jana Šafránková, Zdeněk Němeček, David Píša, Mitchell H. Shen, Zoltan Sternovsky, and Shengyi Ye

The Cassini spacecraft spent more than 13 years in the dusty environment of Saturn. During this long period of investigations of the Saturn magnetosphere, the RPWS (Radio Plasma Wave Science) instrument recorded more than half a million spiky signatures. However, not all of them can be interpreted as dust impact signals because plasma structures like solitary waves can result in similar pulses.

We select the registered spike waveforms recorded by both dipole and monopole configurations of electric field antennas operated in 10 kHz or 80 kHz sampling rates at the distance of 0.2 Rs around the rings mid-plane. These waveforms were corrected using Cassini WBR (Wide Band Receiver) transfer function to obtain the correct shape of the signal. The signal polarity, amplitude, and timescales of different parts of the waveforms were quantitatively inspected according to the spacecraft potential, the density of the ambient plasma, the intensity of the Saturn’s magnetic field, and its orientation with respect to the spacecraft. The magnetic field orientation was also used for distinguishing between signals resulting from dust impacts and signals produced by solitary waves misinterpreted as dust impact signals.

The preliminary results of our study indicate similarities with previous laboratory studies of dust impact waveforms on the reduced model of Cassini bombarded with submicron-sized iron grains in external magnetic fields at the LASP facility of the University of Colorado. The polarity of the signals changes in accordance with a polarity of the spacecraft potential and pre-spike signals are also observed. The core of the paper is devoted to the relation between characteristics of dust impact signals and local plasma parameters and magnetic field intensity at the radial distance from 2 Rs to 60 Rs from Saturn surface.

How to cite: Nouzak, L., Pavlů, J., Vaverka, J., Šafránková, J., Němeček, Z., Píša, D., Shen, M. H., Sternovsky, Z., and Ye, S.: Interpretation of dust impact signals detected by Cassini at Saturn, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-11161,, 2021.

Larry W. Esposito, Miodrag Sremcevic, Joshua Colwell, Stephanie Eckert, and Richard Jerousek

The varying geometry of Cassini star occultations by Saturn’s rings constrains both the size and shape of structures that block starlight. Statistics of UVIS star occultations measure structures as small as meters, on times scales of minutes to decades. We calculate the excess variance, skewness and kurtosis including the effects of irregular particle shadows, along with a granola bar model of gaps, ghosts and clumps. The widths W and separation S of rectangular clumps play an analogous role to the relative size of the particle shadows, δ. In the first model considered, our calculations are based on the moments of the transparency T in that part of the ring sampled by the occultation, thus extending the work of  Showalter and Nicholson (1990) to larger τ  and δ, and to higher central moments, without their simplifying assumptions. We also calculate these statistics using an approach based on the autocovariance, autocoskewness and autocokurtosis.

These new approaches compare well to the formula for excess variance from Showalter and Nicholson in the region where all are accurate, δτ1. Skewness for small τ has a different sign for transparent and opaque structures, distinguishing gaps from clumps. The higher order central moments are more sensitive to the extremes of the size distribution and opacity.

We explain the upward curvature of the dependence of normalized excess variance for Saturn’s background C ring by the observation of Jerousek etal (2018) that the measured optical depth is correlated with particle size. For a linear dependence Reff = 12 * (τ – 0.08) + 1.8m from Jerousek’s results, we match the curvature of normalized excess variance, the skewness and the kurtosis in the region between 78,000 and 84,600km from Saturn.

Statistics calculated from the granola bar model give different predictions from individual particles. The different τ dependence suggests that the wave crests compress the gaps more than the wakes, and produce more regularity among the clumps; and larger and more opaque self-gravity wakes in the wave crests, with transparent ghosts. The UVIS observations fall between the most regular and the most irregular granola bar models.

We compare selected occultations (Eckert etal 2020) at different values of the elevation B to estimate the flattening and axial ratio of ring particles and clumps. In Ring C, we find spheres: The statistical measures from multiple occultations follow the expected dependence on sin B, e.g. Showalter & Nicholson (1990). However, in the Janus 2:1 and Mimas 5:3 density waves, the excess variance for stars β Cen, λ Sco and σ Sgr shows no B dependence. This is exactly the expectation for completely flat (H/W =0) self-gravity wakes that we have derived from the autocovariance of the wake shadows. A closer analysis of this particular case gives H/W < 0.04, different from Colwell etal (2007), suggesting wakes are more like linguine than granola bars.

How to cite: Esposito, L. W., Sremcevic, M., Colwell, J., Eckert, S., and Jerousek, R.: Flattening of ring particles and self-gravity wakes in Saturn’s rings, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-3519,, 2021.

Oleg Shebanits, Lina Hadid, Hao Cao, Michiko Morooka, Michele Dougherty, Jan-Erik Wahlund, Gregory Hunt, Hunter Waite, and Ingo Müller-Wodarg

Cassini’s Grand Finale orbits brought us historical first in-situ measurements of Saturn’s ionosphere, showing that it contains dusty plasma in the equatorial region. We present the Pedersen and Hall conductivities of the top ionosphere (10:50 – 12:17 Saturn Local Time, 10N – 20S planetocentric latitude), derived from particle and magnetometer data. We constrain the Pedersen conductivities to be at least 10-5 – 10-4 S/m at ionospheric peak, a factor 10-100 higher than estimated previously by remote measurements, while the Hall conductivities are very close to 0 or in fact negative. We show that this is an effect of dusty plasma. Another effect is that ionospheric dynamo region thickness is increased to 300-800 km. Furthermore, our results suggest a temporal variation (decrease) of the plasma densities, mean ion masses and consequently the conductivities over the period of one month.

How to cite: Shebanits, O., Hadid, L., Cao, H., Morooka, M., Dougherty, M., Wahlund, J.-E., Hunt, G., Waite, H., and Müller-Wodarg, I.: The conductive dusty ionosphere of Saturn, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-6424,, 2021.

Ralf Srama, Jon K. Hillier, Sean Hsu, Sascha Kempf, Masanori Kobayashi, Harald Krueger, Georg Moragas-Klostermeyer, Anna Mocker, Jonas Simolka, Veerle Sterken, Zoltan Sternovsky, and Heiko Strack

The Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) onboard Cassini characterized successfully the dust environment at Saturn from 2004 to 2017. Besides the study of Saturn’s E ring and its interaction with the embedded moons, CDA detected nanoparticles in the outer Saturn system moving on unbound orbits and originating primarily from Saturn’s E-ring. Although the instrument was built to detect micron and sub-micron sized particles, nano-sized grains were detected during the flyby at early Jupiter and in the outer environment at Saturn. Fast dust particles with sizes below 10 nm were measured by in-situ impact ionization and mass spectra were recorded. What are the limits of in-situ hypervelocity impact detection and what can be expected with current high-resolution mass spectrometers as flown onboard the missions DESTINY+ or EUROPA? Is the sensitivity of Dust Telescopes sufficient to detect nano-diamonds in interstellar space? This presentation summarizes the current experience of in-situ dust detectors and gives a prediction for future missions. In summary, current Dust Telescopes with integrated high-resolution mass spectrometers are more sensitive than the CASSINI Cosmic Dust Analyzer.

How to cite: Srama, R., Hillier, J. K., Hsu, S., Kempf, S., Kobayashi, M., Krueger, H., Moragas-Klostermeyer, G., Mocker, A., Simolka, J., Sterken, V., Sternovsky, Z., and Strack, H.: Nanodust detection with Cassini CDA - Implications for DESTINY+ and Interstellar Probe, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-3198,, 2021.