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H.U. Keller, L. Jorda (MPIfA), H. Rickman (Uppsala Astronomical Obs.), N. Thomas (MPIfA)
Modelling cometary rotation is of particular interest for the preparation of space missions to comets. For example, the mapping phase during the ROSETTA mission must be planned keeping in mind that, unlike most asteroids, the rotational state of most short-period comets might be complex (excited). The modelling of cometary nucleus rotation can also provide us with important parameters that are needed to interpret coma structures or to build time-dependent thermal models of the nucleus. We combine a general three-dimensional model for the nucleus shape, surface properties, and insolation with a simplified thermal model to calculate the local time-dependent activity and consequently the non-gravitational forces acting on the nucleus. The torque of this force is then used to numerically solve the forced Euler equations for a homogeneously outgassing irregularly-shaped cometary nucleus. We will discuss the results of our model for comets 46P/Wirtanen, the target of the ROSETTA mission, and 19P/Borrelly, the target of DEEP-SPACE 1 and derive some generalized inferences.