Constraints on comet 46P/Wirtanen dust parameters provided by in-situ and ground-based observations
Publication date: 01 Jun 1999
Authors: Fulle, M.
Journal: Planetary and Space Science
Copyright: Elsevier ScienceA dust environment working group was encouraged by ESA to provide coma dust environment models useful to plan the ROSETTA operations around the nucleus of short period comet 46P/Wirtanen. Among the many parameters describing the dust released from the nucleus surface, special care was devoted to the dust size distribution. Its present uncertainty makes all environment models sensitive, mainly, to which actual size distribution is adopted. In fact, it must be stressed that no other cometary dust parameter can be derived, such as dust loss rate or dust to gas ratio, if the size distribution remains undetermined. This paper will focus, therefore, on the available information on cometary dust size distributions, starting from the in situ measurement cornerstone provided by the GIOTTO-DIDSY results. Available ground-based observations are then reviewed, in order to disentangle the real sensitivity of them to this quantity; the size distribution is always embedded together with other dust parameters, and its influence on the published results is often forgotten.