Advisors

Fred Goesmann
Scientist
Phone: +49 551 384 979-311
Prof. Uwe Meierhenrich

Institut de Chimie de Nice, UNS

Links

COSAC is one of Philae's two gas analyzers. Its goal is to identify organic materials in the nucleus of comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

COSAC - Cometary Sampling and Composition Experiment

COSAC is one of Philae's two gas analyzers. Its goal is to identify organic materials in the nucleus of comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko. [more]

First results
from Philae

July 31, 2015

The surface dust of Rosetta’s comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko contains a wide variety of organic molecules. Researchers led by the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen have been able to detect a total of 16 compounds in measurement data from the COSAC instrument which were recorded shortly after the Philae lander first touched down on the surface of the comet on 12 November 2014. Many of the substances are considered to be key molecules for biochemical reactions – in the creation of sugars or amino acids, for example. Thecurrent edition of the journal Science is dedicating a total of eight articles to these and further results of Rosetta’s landing mission. In a further publication, researchers working with the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research reconstruct what precisely happened during the landing. The calculations allow conclusions to be drawn about characteristics of the comet’s surface. While Philae first touched down in a soft, dusty region, its final landing place is much firmer. [more]

How to apply

Open PhD Project

The Organic Composition of a Cometary Nucleus

COSAC gas chromatogram and mass spectra from 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko's surface

Cometary nuclei are agglomerates of dust particles and ices. Volatile organic molecules have been detected in cometary comae, but little is known about the pristine organic composition of cometary nuclei. After touchdown of the Rosetta Lander Philae on the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko the COSAC instrument (COSAC PI: Dr. Fred Goesmann) recorded gas chromatogram and mass spectra on November 14th 2014. These data were successfully transmitted to ESA and are available in the COSAC team. While the chromatogram is by now agreed to contain no sample, the interpretation of the mass spectra was performed but is still open for improvement. In combination with ground tests in our laboratories using the COSAC flight spare model and with the help of chemical analyses of simulated cometary ices, the original COSAC data will be used in the frame of the proposed PhD thesis to elucidate the organic composition of a cometary nucleus.

We search for a motivated PhD student with an excellent Master's degree (M.Sc.) in astrophysics, physics, physical chemistry, or analytical chemistry. Technical skills in dealing with vacuum technology and GC-MS hardware are essential. The PhD student will be located at MPS in Göttingen, Germany.

 
loading content