Comet dust particles may be small, but they come in large numbers. COSIMA Principal Investigator Martin Hilchenbach shares some impressive facts about the instrument’s performance, and reflects on the personal highlights of the team during Rosetta’s mission.
Rosetta’s dust analysing instrument COSIMA (COmetary Secondary Ion Mass Analyser) has had a busy two years at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko: 31 000 dust particles collected at the last count (mid-August 2016). And as Martin puts it “..which are soon to be returned to the surface of the comet!”
Impressively, one single COSIMA team member, Sihane Merouane, identified and labelled all imaged particles and compiled the archive list, and 6053 particles now have proper names – the first assignments given for COSIMA and the wider Rosetta team members and their families. According to Martin, it would take around five hours to read out the list of names assigned to the particles on just one target. There have been 21 targets in total exposed.
Meet some of the COSIMA grain family! The target plate measures 1cm across, and shows dust grains collected between 11 August and 12 December 2014. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for COSIMA Team MPS/CSNSM/UNIBW/TUORLA/IWF/IAS/ESA/BUW/MPE/LPC2E/LCM/FMI/UTU/LISA/UOFC/vH&S.
And these targets are small – just one centimetre square each. ...