Comet Halley | Published:

Optical probing of comet Halley from the Giotto spacecraft

Nature volume 321, pages 341344 (15 May 1986) | Download Citation



The Halley optical probe experiment (HOPE) aboard the Giotto spacecraft has provided the first measurements of the optical properties of the dust and of some gaseous species (CN, C2, CO+ and OH) from inside the coma of comet Halley. The dust spatial distribution, inferred from sunlight scattering, obeys an r−2 law for distances from the nucleus r2,000 km. The more rapid increase of dust density with distance observed in the innermost coma probably reflects the presence of a jet, or a surge of activity within a few hours before closest approach. The CN and OH signals increase more slowly than the dust signals, but faster than predicted by a simple model (of solar-excited resonance fluorescence) for the distribution of these species1. This effect is probably caused in part by the dust contribution, as well as by the production from parent molecules of OH and CN in an excited state.

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  1. Service d'Aéronomie CNRS, BP 3, 91370 Verrières-le-Buisson, France

    • A. C. Levasseur-Regourd
    • , J. L. Bertaux
    •  & J. M. Le Blanc
  2. Observatoire de Bordeaux, 33270 Floirac, France

    • R. Dumont
  3. Observatoire de Besançon, 25044 Besançon, France

    • M. Festou
  4. Ruhr Universität, Postfach 102148, 4630 Bochum, FRG

    • R. H. Giese
  5. Space Astronomy Laboratory, 1810 NW 6th St., Gainesville, Florida 32601, USA

    • F. Giovane
    •  & J. L. Weinberg
  6. Laboratoire d'Astronomie Spatiale, Les Trois Lucs, 13012 Marseille, France

    • P. Lamy
    •  & A. Llebaria


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