Volcanism on other planets.

Volcanology Big Idea 2: Volcanism happens on other planets.

Volcanism is the 2nd of 4 major processes studied in order to try and unravel the history of the solar system. After impact cratering, volcanism is the most widely spread process in the system. Volcanism on other planets however is a fairly recent discovery as space exploration has only really developed over the past 4 decades.

Basic physical geological mechanisms underlying the styles of eruptions that occur are identified through analysis of volcanic products on Earth. Products of volcanism on other planets are then analysed in order to extend the boundary conditions under which the basic processes operate.

Our solar system includes 2 gas giants (Jupiter & Saturn), 2 ice giants (Uranus & Neptune) and 11 small planets (Earth & 3 other silicate “Earth-like” planets: Mercury, Venus & Mars) & satellites (The Moon, Io, Titan, Triton, Europa, Callisto & Ganymede).

Why is is important to study other planets?

1. To learn about early Earth as many features are not preseved here.

2. To understand planetary interiors and how they work on long time scales, putting Earth’s history in perspective and predicting extreme events.

There are 3 techniques contributing to the development of planetary science; remote sensing of surface feature morphology and composition, direct surface sampling and subsequent lab smaple analysis, and theoretical modelling.

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