Distribution Maps of Coma and Regional Spectra in Coma
Distribution Maps of Coma and Regional Spectra in Coma

Results from the Infrared spectrometer in work lead by Lori Feaga of University of Maryland, show asymmetric distributions of both water and carbon dioxide gases in the coma of Tempel 1. The water is enhanced in the sunward direction, where sunlight sublimates water ice. The CO2 is enhanced off of the southern hemisphere of the comet. This suggests that the composition of the nucleus of the comet is not uniform, and is heterogeneous. One of the major objectives of the mission was to determine whether comet nuclei are uniform in composition. The answer is no. Detailed study of these coma asymmetries gives insight to the relative abundances of the dominant molecular components of the inner coma, source regions of the native volatiles, anisotropic outgassing of the nucleus, and the formation and evolution of the nucleus.

Photo Credit: NASA/UM/Lori Feaga

Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
Page Editor: Martin Perez