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Abstract

IN the European Space Agency's 1992 Giotto Extended Mission, the Dust Impact Detection System operated successfully during a fly-by that took the spacecraft within about 200 km of the nucleus of comet Grigg–Skjellerup. During the encounter, three meteoroid impacts were detected on Giotto's front shield. The particle masses were found to be lOO+105-50 µg, 2+4-1 µg and 20+25-10 µg, suggesting that the mass distribution of the cometary dust was dominated by larger particles. This is supported by the independent detection of a very large meteoroid (14+40-4 mg) by the Giotto Radio-Science Experiment, and is consistent with data over the same mass range from the 1986 encounter with comet Halley. The results indicate a higher rate of mass loss from the nucleus than previously thought, and hence a higher dust-to-gas mass ratio.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. Unit for Space Sciences, Physics Laboratory, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NR, UK

    • J. A. M. McDonnell
    • , N. McBride
    • , R. Beard
    • , S. F. Green
    •  & J. C. Zarnecki
  2. Istituto di Fisica Sperimentale, Istituto Universitario Navale, Via A. De Gasperi 5, 80133 Napoli, Italy

    • E. Bussoletti
  3. University of Cassino, Via Zamosch 43, 03043 Cassino (Fr), Italy

    • L. Colangeli
  4. Physikalisches Institut, Universität Bern, CH-3012 Bern, Sidlerstrasse 5, Switzerland

    • P. Eberhardt
  5. Space Science Department, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Chilton, Didcot 0X11 OQX, UK

    • J. G. Firth
    • , C. H. Perry
    •  & R. F. Turner
  6. PSS, ESTEC, Postbus 299, 2200 AG Noordwijk, Netherlands

    • R. Grard
    •  & G. H. Schwehm
  7. Rijksuniversiteit te Leiden, Huygens Laboratorium, Postbus 9504, 2300 RA Leiden, Netherlands

    • J. M. Greenberg
  8. Max-Planck-lnstitut für Kernphysik, D-6900 Heidelberg, Germany

    • E. Grün
    •  & J. Kissel
  9. Department of Physics, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S3 7RH, UK

    • D. W. Hughes
  10. Max Planck Institut für Aeronomie, D-3411 Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany

    • H. U. Keller
  11. Lund Observatory, Box 43, S-221 00 Lund, Sweden

    • B. A. Lindblad
  12. ONERA-CERT-DERTS, BP No. 4025 31055 Toulouse Cedex, France

    • J.-C. Mandeville
  13. Astronomical Observatory, Box 515, S-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden

    • H. Rickman
  14. Fakultät für Physik, Universitat Karlsruhe, D-7500 Karlsruhe, Germany

    • K. Rembor
  15. School of Mathematics, University of Wales, Senghennydd Road, Cardiff CF2 4AG, UK

    • M. K. Wallis

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https://doi.org/10.1038/362732a0

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