CONSERT (COmet Nucleus Sounding Experiment by Radio-wave Transmission) is a complex experiment that will reveal the internal structure of a comet nucleus for the very first time. Instrument components are found on both the orbiter and the lander, the idea being to establish a radio link that passes through the comet nucleus. The way in which the radio waves propagate through the nucleus will give scientists clues as to its structure and nature.
CONSERT will examine many properties of the comet nucleus, such as:
- Its mean electrical properties: this will allow scientists to broadly characterise the types of materials present
- The correlation length: this is a measure of the average size of the sub-structures or 'Cometesimals' that have collected together to form the nucleus
- The number and thickness of the various layers or interfaces present beneath the surface
- Its overall structural homogeneity: this will allow scientist to determine whether the nucleus is a single uniform body or if it is a mixed collection of smaller bodies, more akin to a rubble pile.
After analysis, the CONSERT data will allow scientists to build up a detailed structural view of the comet nucleus, which will in turn constrain scenarios on how it was formed. The origin of the comet is closely linked to the conditions in the Primitive Solar Nebulae some 4600 million years ago. CONSERT will therefore play a vital role in fullfilling Rosetta's objective to further our understanding of the origin and formation of the Solar System.
Last Update: 09 Apr 2010