NASA climate modeling suggests Venus may have been habitable

What Can Earth Tell Us About Exoplanets?

Earth is our only example of a planet that is habitable and inhabited. For this reason, it is the prime example researchers look to when understanding habitability and life that may exist elsewhere. Using Earth as a model, researchers can use information about its environment to better understand the habitability of other planets in our solar system and beyond. Scientists can also apply what is known about Earth to study the histories of other planets and whether they may have once been able to support life. These analyses may consider factors such as the chemical evolution of Earth’s atmosphere through time, its atmospheric dynamics and loss, and the impact of surface and biological processes on the environment. The rich data available on Earth can also be used to validate exoplanet models, making these tools more applicable to a diverse array of worlds. Extending these validated models to other planetary systems, such as by varying the orbit and type of host star, will allow researchers to consider what impacts these processes have on a planet’s ability to support life.

Just as Earth can guide our understanding of other habitable worlds, exoplanets can help us place Earth and our solar system into a broader context, informing us of how common habitable conditions are. Exoplanets at earlier stages of evolution could also shed light on processes that operated on Earth or other planets in the solar system in the past. Discovering and exploring other habitable worlds will help us understand whether Earth and other planets in our solar system are rare or simply a standard outcome of planetary formation.

Related Researchers

Vladimir Airapetian, Giada Arney, Tony Del Genio, Shawn Domagal-Goldman, Thomas Fauchez, Alex Glocer, Scott Guzewich, Nancy Kiang, Ravi Kopparapu, Weijia Kuang, Avi Mandell, Luke Oman, Jeremy Schnittman, Linda Sohl, Kostas Tsigaridis, Michael Way

Related SEEC Projects

  1. "Atmos: Studies of Exoplanet Atmospheres Enabled by a Versatile 1-D Photochemical-Climate Model"
  2. "Dynamics of Upper Atmospheres of Terrestrial Exoplanets Around Active K to M dwarfs as a Factor of Habitability"
  3. Guzewich et al. - "Simulating Factors Influencing Habitable Exoplanets with ROCKE3D"
  4. Kiang et al. - "Land Planets: Foundations for Understanding the Distribution of Surface Habitability and Life Inside the Habitable Zone"
  5. Kuang et al. – "Habitability of Magnetic Exo Terrestrial Planets"
  6. Schnittman et al. - "Modeling eccentricity effects with chemistry-coupled GCM simulations"
  7. Way et al. - "Impact of Extreme Space Weather on Climates of Terrestrial-Type Exoplanets"
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