Jean-Baptiste Vincent

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Asteroid in-situ science is another great topic of interest, quite different from my work on comets. Here we do not see fast activity driven by gas sublimation, but this does not make asteroidal surfaces boring. Indeed they can experience large changes on a geological time scale but short-time events such as impacts or landslides happen all the time and tell us a lot about the physical properties of these small bodies.

The prime target of ESA's Rosetta mission is comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. However on its way to the comet flew by two very different asteroids: (2867)Steins & (21)Lutetia. The OSIRIS camera system onboard Rosetta took high-resolution images (60m/px) of these two objects and the data analysis is now helping us to understand better the physical processes occurring on aasteroids.

My interest lies in the physical properties of the surface (and to some extent the interior).
I measure and analyse the morphology of craters and landslides, and connect it to the geological history of the body. In the case of Lutetia I also model the gravity field, looking for an answer to the debate on whether this asteroid is partially differentiated or not.

Within the DAWN mission, I work on very similar problems, trying to constrain surface properties of (4)Vesta from crater morphology analysis.

Close view of asteroid (21) Lutetia Northern & Southern hemispheres of (4)Vesta
Close view of asteroid (21) Lutetia Northern & Southern hemispheres of (4)Vesta