Atmospheric Evolution and Habitability
Our research group develops atmospheric models of varying complexity (1D, 2D, 3D) to simulate the atmospheres and habitability of the rocky worlds in our solar system (i.e., Venus, Earth, Mars, Titan) and assess their atmospheric/climatic evolution through time. We address “big picture” questions like:
How and why did Venus (our “sister planet”) – with surface temperatures hot enough to melt lead – evolve so differently from our Earth in spite of its similar size and mass? In turn, how can Earth avoid a similar fate?
Mars, the Red Planet, may have once been a more Earth-like world, characterized by an atmosphere thick enough to support surface oceans and abundant rainfall. If so, how did Mars lose its habitability and did it ever (does it still) support life?
And how about Titan – the only other solar system body with a full hydrologic cycle – could life be thriving within its hydrocarbon seas?
Understanding the habitability of our neighboring planets helps answer whether a second genesis could have occurred. If it did, this would have tremendous implications for the cosmic abundance of life.