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Journal Articles Space Science Reviews Year : 2007

Cosac, The Cometary Sampling and Composition Experiment on Philae

Fred Goesmann
  • Function : Author
Helmut Rosenbauer
  • Function : Author
Reinhard Roll
  • Function : Author
Francois Raulin
  • Function : Author
Robert Sternberg
  • Function : Author
Guy Israel
  • Function : Author
Uwe Meierhenrich
Wolfram Thiemann
  • Function : Author
Guillermo Munoz-Caro
  • Function : Author


Comets are thought to preserve the most pristine material currently present in the solar system, as they are formed by agglomeration of dust particles in the solar nebula, far from the Sun, and their interiors have remained cold. By approaching the Sun, volatile components and dust particles are released forming the cometary coma. During the phase of Heavy Bombardment, 3.8--4 billion years ago, cometary matter was delivered to the Early Earth. Precise knowledge on the physico-chemical composition of comets is crucial to understand the formation of the Solar System, the evolution of Earth and particularly the starting conditions for the origin of life on Earth. Here, we report on the COSAC instrument, part of the ESA cometary mission Rosetta, which is designed to characterize, identify, and quantify volatile cometary compounds, including larger organic molecules, by in situ measurements of surface and subsurface cometary samples. The technical concept of a multi-column enantio-selective gas chromatograph (GC) coupled to a linear reflectron time-of-flight mass-spectrometer instrument is presented together with its realisation under the scientific guidance of the Max-Planck-Institute for Solar System Research in Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany. The instrument's technical data are given; first measurements making use of standard samples are presented. The cometary science community is looking forward to receive fascinating data from COSAC cometary in situ measurements in 2014.

Dates and versions

hal-00161597 , version 1 (11-07-2007)



Fred Goesmann, Helmut Rosenbauer, Reinhard Roll, Cyril Szopa, Francois Raulin, et al.. Cosac, The Cometary Sampling and Composition Experiment on Philae. Space Science Reviews, 2007, 128 (1-4), pp.257-280. ⟨10.1007/s11214-006-9000-6⟩. ⟨hal-00161597⟩
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