Measuring the permittivity of the surface of the Churyumov-Gerasimenko nucleus: the PP-SESAME experiment on board the Philae/ROSETTA lander

Abstract : Within Philae, the lander of the Rosetta spacecraft, the Permittivity Probe (PP) experiment as part of the Surface Electric Sounding and Acoustic Monitoring Experiment (SESAME) package was designed to measure the low frequency (Hz-kHz) electrical properties of the close subsurface of the nucleus. At frequencies below 10 kHz, the electrical signature of the matter is especially sensitive to the presence of water ice and its temperature. PP-SESAME will thus allow to determine the water ice content in the near-surface and to monitor its diurnal and orbital variations thus providing essential insight on the activity and evolution of the cometary nucleus. The PP-SESAME instrument is derived from the quadrupole array technique. A sinusoidal electrical current is sent into the ground through a first dipole, and the induced electrical voltage is measured with a second dipole. The complex permittivity of the material is inferred from the mutual impedance derived from the measurements. In practice, the influence of both the electronic circuit of the instrument and the conducting elements in its close environment must be accounted for in order to best estimate the dielectric constant and electric conductivity of the ground. To do this we have developed a method called the “capacity-influence matrix method”. A replica of the instrument was recently built in LATMOS (France) and was tested in the frame of a field campaign in the giant ice cave system of Dachstein, Austria. In the caves, the ground is covered with a thick layer of ice, which temperature is rather constant throughout the year. This measurement campaign allowed us to test the “capacity influence matrix method” in a natural icy environment. The first measurements of the PP-SESAME/Philae experiment should be available in mid-November. In this paper we will present the “capacity-influence matrix method”, the measurements and results from the Austrian field campaign and the preliminary analysis of the PP-SESAME/Philae data.
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Submitted on : Thursday, February 5, 2015 - 6:29:00 PM
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  • HAL Id : hal-01113557, version 1

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Anthony Lethuillier, Alice Le Gall, Michel Hamelin, Valérie Ciarletti, Sylvain Caujolle-Bert, et al.. Measuring the permittivity of the surface of the Churyumov-Gerasimenko nucleus: the PP-SESAME experiment on board the Philae/ROSETTA lander. AGU Fall Meeting 2014, Dec 2014, San Francisco, United States. pp.P34B-05. ⟨hal-01113557⟩

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