MIDAS (Micro-Imaging Dust Analysis System) on board the Rosetta spacecraft will investigate the physical parameters of cometary dust with an atomic force microscope. This dust is emitted as soon as the comet approaches the sun. The texture of the dust particles can be measured with an accuracy of several nanometers with this new method.
The smallest particles, from micro- to nanometers, in the size distribution of the cometary dust are very prevalent. Based on structure one can deduce the shares of rocky material and of light elements. MIDAS is expected to give conclusive results about the physical properties of comets as sources of dust emission. Above and beyond this, the development of cometary activity during solar approach and the interaction between dust, gas and plasma in the surroundings of the comet will be investigated.
The development of the instrument results from an international collaboration between the Space Science Department of ESA, the Department of Physics of Kassel University, under chairing by the Space Research Institute (IWF) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (AAS). Within Austria IWF is joined by the participation of the Institute of Applied Systems Technology of Joanneum Research, Graz, Austrian Research Centers Seibersdorf, Austrian Aerospace, Vienna, and Vienna University of Technology, Institute of Sensor and Actuator Systems.
Scientific support is given by: