The Organic Composition of a Cometary Nucleus
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.