PLANETARY ATMOSPHERE EVOLUTION
Earth has been habitable throughout most of its history, whereas our nearest planetary neighbors, Mars and Venus, have not. Climate history on all three planets was also influenced by gradually increasing solar luminosity over Solar System history.
Understanding why these three planets have followed such different evolutionary paths is a problem that requires a combination of data from geology and from spacecraft missions, along with application of sophisticated numerical modeling techniques. Similar models are also used to estimate the width of the liquid water habitable zone around other stars and to help guide the astronomical search for Earth-like extrasolar planets.
The Planetary Atmospheres research group collaborates with Penn State's Astrobiology group (Macalady, House, Ingalls, Lau, Freeman, Lloyd & Kump).
A planet’s surface reveals a time-integrated record of climate, sedimentary processes, volcanism, impacts, and more. The Planetary Surfaces group at Penn State works to understand the evolution of rocky planets and moons across the solar system through the interrogation of their surfaces. We uniquely combine expertise in remote sensing from orbital and ground-based spacecraft, numerical simulations, and Earth analogs.
WHO WE ARE
Learn more about our faculty and research groups:
Dr. Ben Cardenas and the Planetary Sedimentology Group use the sedimentary records of Earth, Mars, and other rocky planets and moons to understand how these planetary surfaces have evolved through deep time. We inform our satellite and rover-based interpretations of planetary surfaces with Earth-analog field sedimentology, the study of modern sedimentary systems, numerical experiments, and the interpretation of 3D seismic volumes.
Dr. Jesse Reimink’s research group uses a blend of igneous petrology, geochronology, and isotope geochemistry to answer fundamental questions about the formation and evolution of Earth’s continental crust and planetary evolution. Their work entails fieldwork in remote locations where truly ancient continental crust is found, basic sample documentation and characterization, and using state-of-the-art geochemical techniques to determine the sources, ages, and overprinting histories of ancient tracts of continental crust. Current work is focused on determining why and when continents emerged above sea level, the geodynamic regime operative on the earliest Earth, and the amount of continental crust formed through time. Reimink’s research group manages the LionChron in situ geochron/geochemistry facility and uses other facilities on campus, Huck Institute, LIME, and collaborators laboratories across the world - Carnegie Geochemistry Facility, and the University of Alberta CCIM to name a few.