Lab+Life Scientist Jan 2014

Page 24

science in space

First picture of Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko. 28 lenses made of radiationresistant glass from SCHOTT are installed in the panorama camera system which took this picture. Photo: © ESA/ Rosetta/Philae/CIVA.

scientists to build up a detailed structural view of the

measurements of solar system bodies. The instrument

boom. The deployment on the surface of a cometary

comet nucleus, which will in turn constrain scenarios

concept is termed MODULUS, which is taken to mean

nucleus demanded the development of a special

on how it was formed. The origin of the comet is

Methods Of Determining and Understanding Light

digital magnetometer of little weight and small power

closely linked to the conditions in the Primitive Solar

elements from Unequivocal Stable isotope compositions.

requirements. For the first time a magnetic sensor will

Nebulae some 4600 million years ago. CONSERT

The scientific goal of the MODULUS concept

be operated from within a plasma sensor. A prototype

will therefore play a vital role in fulfilling Rosetta’s

is to understand the geochemistry of light elements,

of the magnetometer, named SPRUTMAG, was flown

objective to further our understanding of the origin

such as hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen, by

on space station MIR.

and formation of the solar system.

determining their nature, distribution and stable



isotopic compositions.

The sampling, drilling and distribution (SD2)

The COmetary SAmpling and Composition

The size of a small shoe box and weighing less

subsystem will provide microscopes and advanced

experiment COSAC is one of the two ‘evolved gas

than 5 kg, Ptolemy will use gas chromatography/mass

gas analysers with samples collected at different depths

analysers’ (EGAs) onboard the Rosetta-Lander.

spectrometry (GCMS) techniques to investigate the

below the surface of the comet. Specifically, SD2 can

Whereas the other EGA, Ptolemy, aims mainly

comet surface and subsurface.

bore up to 250 mm into the surface of the comet and

at accurately measuring isotopic ratios of light


collect samples of material at predetermined and/or

elements, the COSAC is specialised in detection and

The descent and down-looking ROLIS Camera

known depths. It then transports each sample to a

identification of complex organic molecules.

(ROsetta Lander Imaging System) will deliver first

carousel, which feeds samples to different instrument


close-ups of the environment of the landing place

stations: a spectrometer, a volume check plug, ovens

The scientific objectives of MUPUS (MUlti-PUrpose

of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko during the

for high and medium temperatures and a cleaning

Sensors for Surface and Sub-Surface Science) are: to

descent. A CCD camera will obtain high-resolution

station. SD2 will be accommodated on the flat ground-

understand the properties and layering of the near-

images during descent and stereo panoramic images

plate of the Rosetta, where it will be exposed to the

surface matter as these evolve with time as the comet

of areas sampled by other instruments.

cometary environment. SESAME

rotates and approaches the Sun; to understand the

After landing ROLIS will make high-resolved

energy balance at the surface and its variation with

investigations to study the structure (morphology)

In SESAME (Surface Electrical, Seismic and Acoustic

time and depth; to understand the mass balance at

and mineralogy of the surface.

Monitoring Experiments) three instruments will

the surface and its evolution with time; and to provide


investigate the comet’s outer layers. A cometary

ground truth for thermal mapping from the Orbiter,

The ROsetta Lander Magnetometer and Plasma

acoustic sounding surface experiment will measure the

and to support other instruments on the Rosetta

Monitor (ROMAP) is a multisensor experiment.

way sound travels through the surface; a permittivity

Lander (eg, SESAME-CASSE).

The magnetic field is measured with a fluxgate

probe will look at its electrical characteristics; and a


magnetometer. An electrostatic analyser with

dust impact monitor will measure dust falling back.

Ptolemy is the first example of a new concept in space

integrated Faraday cup measures ions and electrons.

The results of SESAME will help in understanding

instrumentation, which has been devised to tackle

The local pressure is measured with Pirani and

how comets, have formed and thus, how the solar

the analytical challenge of making in situ isotopic

Penning sensors. The sensors are situated on a short

system, including the Earth, was born.

24 | LAB+LIFE SCIENTIST - January 2015 |