Porosity gradients as a means of driving lateral flows at cometary surfaces

Chariton Christou, S. Kokou Dadzie, Raphael Marschall, Nicolas Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


The Rosetta spacecraft has provided invaluable and unexpected information about cometary outgassing. The on-board instruments ROSINA, MIRO, and VIRTIS showed non-uniform outgassing of H2O over the surface of the nucleus. Rarefied gas flows display remarkable flow phenomena that may help explain diverse physical observations and models have been used in various engineering applications. Typical examples are flows generated by temperature variations such as thermal creeping flows that may have applications in cometary research. In this paper, we demonstrate how porosity variations in a porous medium combined with rarefaction can also lead to high tangential speed flow at a surface. Outgassing through a porous surface layer has been postulated as one possible mechanism at the cometary surfaces. We use the Direct Simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) method to investigate such flows. The porous media structure consists of micro computed tomography (micro-CT) image of real Earth rock samples with high resolution. We show that lateral gas density gradients can be produced in a straightforward manner leading to substantial non-radial flow.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104752
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Early online date24 Sept 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Sept 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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