What can comparative planetologists tell us about climate change on Earth?



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    Planetologists have long studied the climates of other planets in our solar system in order to learn about our own. In the journal, Science, an article was published in 1981 which compared the greenhouse effect on Earth, Venus, and Mars. The gas giants and their moons are very different from these inner rocky planets in both composition and amount of energy received from the sun, and therefore have less relevance to our climate here on Earth. Venus displays what most Astronomers consider to be a runaway greenhouse effect. Venus’s atmosphere traps the sun’s energy at a greater rate than our own atmosphere (for disagreed upon reasons) and thus the planet is an inferno with average temperatures of 460 degrees Celsius. Mars’s atmosphere is the opposite, trapping less of the sun’s energy, and thus it is very cold (-180 degrees Celsius). There is likely much more we can learn in the future from both these planets, and possibly the larger moons of planets like Jupiter and Saturn.

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