This software models the gas and dust dynamics of comet coma (the head region of a comet) in order to support the Microwave Instrument for Rosetta Orbiter (MIRO) project. MIRO will study the evolution of the comet

67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko’s coma system. The instrument will measure surface temperature, gas-production rates and relative abundances, and velocity and excitation temperatures of each species along with their spatial temporal variability. This software will use these measurements to improve the understanding of coma dynamics.

The modeling tool solves the equation of motion of a dust particle, the energy balance equation of the dust particle, the continuity equation for the dust and gas flow, and the dust and gas mixture energy equation. By solving these equations numerically, the software calculates the temperature and velocity of gas and dust as a function of time for a given initial gas and dust production rate, and a dust characteristic parameter that measures the ability of a dust particle to adjust its velocity to the local gas velocity.

The software is written in a modular manner, thereby allowing the addition of more dynamics equations as needed. All of the numerical algorithms are added in-house and no third-party libraries are used.

This work was done by Paul A. Von Allmen and Seungwon Lee of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at under the Software category.

This software is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Daniel Broderick of the California Institute of Technology at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Refer to NPO-46507.

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Comet Gas and Dust Dynamics Modeling

(reference NPO-46507) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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This article first appeared in the August, 2010 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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