Invited Talk - Plenary
Wednesday, 13 September 2023, 09:00 (H 0104 / virtual plenum)
Physics of planetary interiors
Freie Universität Berlin, Institute of Geological Sciences
During the last decades, due to tremendous efforts in laboratory, observational, theoretical and modeling works, we have gained a solid (but far from complete) understanding of the interior structure and dynamics of Earth, and to some extent also for other bodies in the solar system, especially rocky worlds. Many open questions, however, remain, and are the target of current and future space missions (e.g. BepiColombo studying Mercury or DAVINCI, VERITAS and EnVision visiting Venus) and research projects.
However, data covering the formation and early evolution of Earth and its neighbours is strongly limited. To gain a better understanding of the early evolutionary stages of rocky planets, as well as the potential diversity of rocky planets, the community starts to focus more on exoplanets. With more than 5000 confirmed planets, we are now in an age where we have statistically meaningfull data samples for planets covering various ages, distances from the star, compositions, etc. But studies trying to make use of this dataset and modeling the physics of the interior of exoplanets are often biased by the Earth-centric view - for example, information on thermodynamic properties are mostly available only for Earth-like mineralogies. Influence of composition (constrained by stellar composition) on rheology and therefore interior dynamics is not well studied yet.
Especially with new opportunities to measure main planetary parameters (mass, radius, age) in high precision (e.g. with PLATO) as well as individual atmospheric signatures (e.g. with JWST or in the future with HWO or the proposed LIFE mission), we have an opportunity to link theoretical models for the interior evolution of rocky planets to their atmospheres, with potential observational confirmations in the near future - especially for more exotic interior structures than observed in the inner solar system, which may lead to distinct atmospheric features, and thus inform us about a larger range of interior processes and structures than observed in the solar system.