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Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Physics

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128 results found

Heritier KL, Henri P, Vallières X, Galand M, Odelstad E, Eriksson AI, Johansson FL, Altwegg K, Behar E, Beth A, Broiles TW, Burch JL, Carr CM, Cupido E, Nilsson H, Rubin M, Vigren Eet al., 2017, Vertical structure of the near-surface expanding ionosphere of comet 67P probed by Rosetta, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol: 469, Pages: S118-S129, ISSN: 0035-8711

The plasma environment has been measured for the first time near the surface of a comet. This unique data set has been acquired at 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko during ESA/Rosetta spacecraft's final descent on 2016 September 30. The heliocentric distance was 3.8 au and the comet was weakly outgassing. Electron density was continuously measured with Rosetta Plasma Consortium (RPC)–Mutual Impedance Probe (MIP) and RPC–LAngmuir Probe (LAP) during the descent from a cometocentric distance of 20 km down to the surface. Data set from both instruments have been cross-calibrated for redundancy and accuracy. To analyse this data set, we have developed a model driven by Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis–COmetary Pressure Sensor total neutral density. The two ionization sources considered are solar extreme ultraviolet radiation and energetic electrons. The latter are estimated from the RPC–Ion and Electron Sensor (IES) and corrected for the spacecraft potential probed by RPC–LAP. We have compared the results of the model to the electron densities measured by RPC–MIP and RPC–LAP at the location of the spacecraft. We find good agreement between observed and modelled electron densities. The energetic electrons have access to the surface of the nucleus and contribute as the main ionization source. As predicted, the measurements exhibit a peak in the ionospheric density close to the surface. The location and magnitude of the peak are estimated analytically. The measured ionospheric densities cannot be explained with a constant outflow velocity model. The use of a neutral model with an expanding outflow is critical to explain the plasma observations.

Journal article

Beth A, Altwegg K, Balsiger H, Berthelier J-J, Calmonte U, Combi MR, De Keyser J, Dhooghe F, Fiethe B, Fuselier SA, Galand M, Gasc S, Gombosi TI, Hansen KC, Hassig M, Heritier KL, Kopp E, Le Roy L, Mandt KE, Peroy S, Rubin M, Semon T, Tzou C-Y, Vigren Eet al., 2017, First in situ detection of the cometary ammonium ion NH4+ (protonated ammonia NH3) in the coma of 67P/C-G near perihelion, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol: 462, Pages: S562-S572, ISSN: 0035-8711

In this paper, we report the first in situ detection of the ammonium ion NH+44+ at 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P/C-G) in a cometary coma, using the Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA)/Double Focusing Mass Spectrometer (DFMS). Unlike neutral and ion spectrometers onboard previous cometary missions, the ROSINA/DFMS spectrometer, when operated in ion mode, offers the capability to distinguish NH+44+ from H2O+ in a cometary coma. We present here the ion data analysis of mass-to-charge ratios 18 and 19 at high spectral resolution and compare the results with an ionospheric model to put these results into context. The model confirms that the ammonium ion NH+44+ is one of the most abundant ion species, as predicted, in the coma near perihelion.

Journal article

Vigren E, Altwegg K, Edberg NJT, Eriksson AI, Galand M, Henri P, Johansson F, Odelstad E, Tzou C-Y, Vallieres Xet al., 2017, Erratum: “Model–observation comparisons of electron number densities in the coma of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko during 2015 January” (2016, AJ, 152, 59), Astronomical Journal, Vol: 153, Pages: 50-50, ISSN: 0004-6256

Journal article

Galand M, Héritier KL, Odelstad E, Henri P, Broiles TW, Allen AJ, Altwegg K, Beth A, Burch JL, Carr CM, Cupido E, Eriksson AI, Glassmeier K-H, Johansson FL, Lebreton J-P, Mandt KE, Nilsson H, Richter I, Rubin M, Sagnières LBM, Schwartz SJ, Sémon T, Tzou C-Y, Vallières X, Vigren E, Wurz Pet al., 2016, Ionospheric plasma of comet 67P probed by Rosetta at 3 AU from the Sun, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol: 462, Pages: S331-S351, ISSN: 1365-2966

We propose to identify the main sources of ionization of the plasma in the coma of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko at different locations in the coma and to quantify their relative importance, for the first time, for close cometocentric distances (<20 km) and large heliocentric distances (>3 au). The ionospheric model proposed is used as an organizing element of a multi-instrument data set from the Rosetta Plasma Consortium (RPC) plasma and particle sensors, from the Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis and from the Microwave Instrument on the Rosetta Orbiter, all on board the ESA/Rosetta spacecraft. The calculated ionospheric density driven by Rosetta observations is compared to the RPC-Langmuir Probe and RPC-Mutual Impedance Probe electron density. The main cometary plasma sources identified are photoionization of solar extreme ultraviolet (EUV) radiation and energetic electron-impact ionization. Over the northern, summer hemisphere, the solar EUV radiation is found to drive the electron density – with occasional periods when energetic electrons are also significant. Over the southern, winter hemisphere, photoionization alone cannot explain the observed electron density, which reaches sometimes higher values than over the summer hemisphere; electron-impact ionization has to be taken into account. The bulk of the electron population is warm with temperature of the order of 7–10 eV. For increased neutral densities, we show evidence of partial energy degradation of the hot electron energy tail and cooling of the full electron population

Journal article

Fuselier SA, Altwegg K, Balsiger H, Berthelier JJ, Beth A, Bieler A, Briois C, Broiles TW, Burch JL, Calmonte U, Cessateur G, Combi M, De Keyser J, Fiethe B, Galand M, Gasc S, Gombosi TI, Gunell H, Hansen KC, Hässig M, Heritier KL, Korth A, Le Roy L, Luspay-Kuti A, Mall U, Mandt KE, Petrinec SM, Rème H, Rinaldi M, Rubin M, Sémon T, Trattner KJ, Tzou C-Y, Vigren E, Waite JH, Wurz Pet al., 2016, Ion chemistry in the coma of comet 67P near perihelion, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol: 462, Pages: S67-S77, ISSN: 1365-2966

The coma and the comet–solar wind interaction of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko changed dramatically from the initial Rosetta spacecraft encounter in 2014 August through perihelion in 2015 August. Just before equinox (at 1.6 au from the Sun), the solar wind signal disappeared and two regions of different cometary ion characteristics were observed. These ‘outer’ and ‘inner’ regions have cometary ion characteristics similar to outside and inside the ion pileup region observed during the Giotto approach to comet 1P/Halley. Rosetta/Double-Focusing Mass Spectrometer ion mass spectrometer observations are used here to investigate the H3O+/H2O+ ratio in the outer and inner regions at 67P/ Churyumov–Gerasimenko. The H3O+/H2O+ ratio and the H3O+ signal are observed to increase in the transition from the outer to the inner region and the H3O+ signal appears to be weakly correlated with cometary ion energy. These ion composition changes are similar to the ones observed during the 1P/Halley flyby. Modelling is used to determine the importance of neutral composition and transport of neutrals and ions away from the nucleus. This modelling demonstrates that changes in the H3O+/H2O+ ratio appear to be driven largely by transport properties and only weakly by neutral composition in the coma.

Journal article

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