Tensile strength of 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko nucleus material from overhangs

Nicholas Attree 1 Olivier Groussin 1 Laurent Jorda 1 David Nébouy 1 Nicholas Thomas 2 Y. Brouet 2 E. Kührt 3 F. Preusker 3 F. Scholten 3 J. Knollenberg 3 P. Hartogh 4 H. Sierks 4 Cesare Barbieri 5 Philippe Lamy 1, 6 R. Rodrigo 7, 8 D. Koschny 9, 10 Hans Rickman 11, 12 Horst U. Keller 3, 13 M. F. A'hearn 14 Anne-Thérèse Auger 1 Maria Antonella Barucci 15 Jean-Loup Bertaux 6 Ivano Bertini 5 Dennis Bodewits 14 S. Boudreault 4 Gabriele Cremonese 16 Vania da Deppo 17 Björn Davidsson 8 Stefano Debei 18 Mariolino de Cecco 19 Jakob Deller 4 Mohamed Ramy El-Maarry 2 Sonia Fornasier 20 Marco Fulle 16 Pedro J. Gutiérrez 21 Carsten Güttler 4 Stubbe F. Hviid 3 W.-H. Ip 22 Gabor Kovacs 4 J. Rainer Kramm 4 Michael Kuppers 23 Luisa Maria Lara 21 Monica Lazzarin 5 José Juan Lopez Moreno 21 Stephan Lowry 24 S. Marchi 25 Francesco Marzari 5 Stefano Mottola 3 Giampiero Naletto 26, 5, 17 Nilda Oklay 3 Maurizio Pajola 27 I. Toth 28 Cecilia Tubiana 4 Jean-Baptiste Vincent 4 Xian Shi 4
6 IMPEC - LATMOS
LATMOS - Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales
Abstract : We directly measured twenty overhanging cliffs on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko extracted from the latest shape model and estimated the minimum tensile strengths needed to support them against collapse under the comet's gravity. We find extremely low strengths of around 1 Pa or less (1 to 5 Pa, when scaled to a metre length). The presence of eroded material at the base of most overhangs, as well as the observed collapse of two features and the implied previous collapse of another, suggests that they are prone to failure and that the true material strengths are close to these lower limits (although we only consider static stresses and not dynamic stress from, for example, cometary activity). Thus, a tensile strength of a few pascals is a good approximation for the tensile strength of the 67P nucleus material, which is in agreement with previous work. We find no particular trends in overhang properties either with size over the ∼10-100 m range studied here or location on the nucleus. There are no obvious differences, in terms of strength, height or evidence of collapse, between the populations of overhangs on the two cometary lobes, suggesting that 67P is relatively homogenous in terms of tensile strength. Low material strengths are supportive of cometary formation as a primordial rubble pile or by collisional fragmentation of a small body (tens of km).
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Nicholas Attree, Olivier Groussin, Laurent Jorda, David Nébouy, Nicholas Thomas, et al.. Tensile strength of 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko nucleus material from overhangs. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2018, 611, A33 (12p.). ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/201732155⟩. ⟨hal-02108713⟩

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