Probing space to understand Earth

Mathieu G.A. Lapôtre, Joseph G. O’Rourke, Laura K. Schaefer, Kirsten L. Siebach, Christopher Spalding, Sonia M. Tikoo, Robin D. Wordsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Progress in the geosciences has often followed the same fundamental paradigm for about two centuries: Earth’s present is the key to understanding its past and its future. This concept is at the root of most of what is known about the Earth. Similarly, knowledge of Earth’s geological and atmospheric processes can be, and has been, applied when studying the history of other planetary bodies. More recently, however, observations from other planets have fed back into our understanding of Earth. In this Perspective, we argue that many scientific mysteries about the Earth can be solved only by looking beyond it, and describe instances where other bodies, such as Mars, Venus and the Moon, have or could augment our understanding of processes on Earth. Future space missions offer the opportunity to probe the rich diversity of planetary environments and compositions, and further explore how they might serve as analogues, experiments and archives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)170-181
Number of pages12
JournalNature Reviews Earth and Environment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Pollution


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