Characterization of planetary subsurfaces with permittivity probes : analysis of the SESAME-PP/Philae and PWA-MIP/HASI/Huygens data

Abstract : Permittivity probes are non-destructive geophysical prospecting instruments that give access to the low frequency (10 Hz – 10 kHz) electrical properties of the close subsurface. This provides us with information on the composition, porosity, temperature, and heterogeneity of the first meters of the subsurface.Using 4 electrodes, the technique consists in injecting a sinusoidal current of known phase and amplitude between two electrodes (transmitting dipole) and measuring the mutual impedance (complex ratio of measured potential over injected current) between this dipole and a receiving dipole. The complex permittivity (i.e. dielectric constant and conductivity) of the subsurface material is derived from the measured phase and amplitude of the mutual impedance. The frequency range of operation of permittivity probes is low, therefore the quasi static approximation applies. To this day the electrical properties of only two extra-terrestrial surfaces have been studied by permittivity probes, the surface of Titan by the instrument PWA-MIP/HASI/Huygens/Cassini-Huygens and the surface of the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko by SESAME-PP/Philae/Rosetta.We present a first analysis of the data collected by SESAME-PP at the surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. With the help of (1) precise numerical models of the instrument, (2) field measurements (in a controlled and natural environment) in order to validate the analysis method, and (3) realistic hypothesis on the close environment we were able to constrain the composition and porosity of the first meters of the comet’s nucleus, showing that the subsurface is more compact than its interior. We also reanalysed of the data collected in 2005 by PWA-MIP, offering new explanations for the abrupt change in the electrical properties observed 11 minutes after the landing of Huygens. These new scenarios were built in the light of lab measurements performed at LATMOS on samples of organic matter (tholins), possible analogue of Titan’s surface material.
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Anthony Lethuillier. Characterization of planetary subsurfaces with permittivity probes : analysis of the SESAME-PP/Philae and PWA-MIP/HASI/Huygens data. Astrophysics [astro-ph]. Université Paris-Saclay, 2016. English. ⟨NNT : 2016SACLV071⟩. ⟨tel-01496107⟩

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