2009 Annual Science Report
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Reporting | JUL 2008 – AUG 2009
NASA Postdoctoral Program Research Summary
We used the Swift observatory to study the gaseous composition and evolution of two very interesting comets (8P/Tuttle and C/2007 Lulin). The spectral ranges of Swift’s grisms (175-520 nm) encompass known cometary fluorescence bands of OH (306 nm), and of many other molecular fragments (e.g., NH, CS, CN, C2, fragment CO, etc.). Repeated observations of the two comets with Swift’s UV-Optical Telescope provided a unique dataset that reveals variations in the comet’s gas production rate on a scale of hours as well as months. As part of this investigation, much time and effort was dedicated to developing new analytical routines for processing the grism data. Further observations of different comets will provide insight in the chemical connection between parent- and fragment molecules.
PROJECT MEMBERS:Dennis Bodewits
RELATED OBJECTIVES:Objective 3.1
Sources of prebiotic materials and catalysts
Origins and evolution of functional biomolecules