The pebbles/boulders size distributions on Sais: Rosetta's final landing site on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

M. Pajola, A. Lucchetti, M. Fulle, S. Mottola, M. Hamm, V. Da Deppo, L. Penasa, G. Kovacs, M. Massironi, X. Shi, C. Tubiana, C. Güttler, N. Oklay, J. B. Vincent, I. Toth, B. Davidsson, G. Naletto, H. Sierks, C. Barbieri, P. L. LamyR. Rodrigo, D. Koschny, H. Rickman, H. U. Keller, J. Agarwal, M. F. A'Hearn, M. A. Barucci, J. L. Bertaux, I. Bertini, G. Cremonese, S. Debei, M. De Cecco, J. Deller, M. R. El Maarry, S. Fornasier, E. Frattin, A. Gicquel, O. Groussin, P. J. Gutierrez, S. Höfner, M. Hofmann, S. F. Hviid, W. H. Ip, L. Jorda, J. Knollenberg, J. R. Kramm, E. Kührt, M. Küppers, L. M. Lara, M. Lazzarin, J. J. Lopez Moreno, F. Marzari, H. Michalik, F. Preusker, F. Scholten, N. Thomas

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By using the imagery acquired by the Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging SystemWide-Angle Camera (OSIRISWAC),we prepare a high-resolutionmorphological map of the Rosetta Sais final landing site, characterized by an outcropping consolidated terrain unit, a coarse boulder deposit and a fine particle deposit. Thanks to the 0.014 m resolution images, we derive the pebbles/boulders size-frequency distribution (SFD) of the area in the size range of 0.07-0.70 m. Sais' SFD is best fitted with a two-segment differential power law: the first segment is in the range 0.07-0.26 m, with an index of -1.7 ± 0.1, while the second is in the range 0.26-0.50 m, with an index of -4.2 +0.4/-0.8. The 'knee' of the SFD, located at 0.26 m, is evident both in the coarse and fine deposits. When compared to the Agilkia Rosetta Lander Imaging System images, Sais surface is almost entirely free of the ubiquitous, cm-sized debris blanket observed by Philae. None the less, a similar SFD behaviour of Agilkia, with a steeper distribution above ~0.3 m, and a flatter trend below that, is observed. The activity evolution of 67P along its orbit provides a coherent scenario of how these deposits were formed. Indeed, different lift pressure values occurring on the two locations and at different heliocentric distances explain the presence of the cm-sized debris blanket on Agilkia observed at 3.0 au inbound. Contrarily, Sais activity after 2.1 au outbound has almost completely eroded the fine deposits fallen during perihelion, resulting in an almost dust-free surface observed at 3.8 au.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)680-689
Number of pages10
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Comets: individual (67P C-G)
  • Methods: data analysis
  • Methods: statistical


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