31st Annual Meeting of the DPS, October 1999
Session 29. Science and Technology of Future Space Missions III
Special Solicited and Contributed Oral Parallel Session, Tuesday, October 12, 1999, 2:00-3:30pm, Sala Kursaal

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[29.07] VIRTIS: an Imaging Spectrometer for the ROSETTA mission

A. Coradini, F. Capaccioni (Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale - CNR, Roma, Italy), P. Drossart, A. Semery (Observatoire de Paris, Meudon, France), G. Arnold, J. Benkhoff (Istitut fuer Planetenkundung - DLR, Berlin, Germany)

The Rosetta mission is dedicated to the most primitive solar system bodies: comets and asteroids. The main target of the mission will be the detailed observation comet 46 P/Wirtanen nucleus and the fly-by of the asteroids Siwa and Otawara. Such interest for small bodies of the solar system is due to the fact that their study is crucial to better understand the solar system formation. In particular, the global characterisation of a cometary nucleus and of two asteroids will provide basic information on the origin of the solar system and on the interrelation between solar system and the interstellar dust environment. To achieve the above mentioned scientific goals, the Rosetta payload will perform in situ analysis of comet material and long period of remote sensing of the comet. The combination of remote sensing and in situ measurements will increase the scientific return of the mission. In fact, the ``in situ'' measurements will give relevant ``ground-truth'' for the remote sensing information, and, in turn, the locally collected data will be interpreted in the appropriate scenario provided by remote sensing investigation. The scientific payload of Rosetta includes a Visual InfraRed Spectral and Thermal Spectrometer (VIRTIS) among the instruments housed in the spacecraft orbiting around the comet nucleus. This instrument is designed to map the heterogeneous parts of the nucleus using high spatial resolution imaging and to determine unambiguously the composition of both the surface of the nucleus and the coma using high spectral resolution spectroscopy. In this way, we will be able to identify the nature of the main constituent of the comets. On an other hand, spectroscopic observations performed by VIRTIS during comet approach to Sun will give further information on the surface thermal evolution. The VIRTIS experiment (instrument and science goals) will be presented.

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