Habitable Zones & Global Climate

Interior Controls On The Habitability Of Rocky Planets

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
March 27, 2024
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Interior Controls On The Habitability Of Rocky Planets
Schematic depiction of the primary convection regimes observed or theorized on terrestrial planets in the Solar System. The three end-members, in this representation, are Plate Tectonics (PT), Stagnant Lid (SL) and Plutonic-Squishy Lid (PSL). Episodic Lid (EL) is an intermediate regime between PT and SL. While the current regimes of Earth, Mercury and Mars are well defined, Venus’ is still uncertain and could range from EL to PSL, or may have transitioned recently (a few 100s Myr) into SL. Mercury is in a later stage of SL compared to Mars because it has cooled down significantly faster. The state of the convection regimes of the planets should not be considered static. Instead, it evolves with time, and the figure can be interpreted as a snapshot of their presentday state. The axis are not fully independent and should be thought of as possible observables. The convection regime figures are adapted from [102]. — astro-ph.EP

No matter how fascinating and exotic other terrestrial planets are revealed to be, nothing generates more excitement than announcements regarding their habitability.

From the observation of Mars to present-day efforts toward Venus and the characterization of exoplanets, the search for life, or at least environments that could accommodate life, has been a major drive for space exploration.

So far, we have found no other unquestionably habitable world besides Earth. The conditions of the habitability of terrestrial planets have proved elusive, as surface conditions depend on the complex interplay of many processes throughout the evolution of a planet.

Here, we review how the interior of a rocky planet can drive the evolution of surface conditions and the atmosphere. Instead of listing criteria assumed to be critical for life, we discuss how the bulk-silicate planet can affect the onset, continuation and cessation of habitability. We then consider how it can be observed and current efforts towards this end.

Cedric Gillmann, Kaustubh Hakim, Diogo Lourenco, Sascha P. Quanz, Paolo A. Sossi

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:2403.17630 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2403.17630v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Journal reference: Space Sci Technol. 2024;4:0075
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Submission history
From: Cedric Gillmann
[v1] Tue, 26 Mar 2024 12:06:34 UTC (1,192 KB)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻