Scientific objectives



GeoFlow

Convection due to thermal buoyancy in the gravitational field of the Earth is the overall driving mechanism of fluid flow in the interior of our planet. In particular large effort has been involved in theoretical prediction and numerical simulation of convection in both the outer core and mantle. The first ...



Gravity and magnetic fields

One of the approaches to study interiors of planets is to carefully analyse the internally generated fields extending to the outer space i.e. gravitation and magnetic field. Whereas the gravitation is given by mass distribution within the body which is quite stable, the magnetic field of the planets is usually generated by some internal dynamic processes and, therefore, can change significantly with the time. Studying ...



Habitable planets and life

The Earth is the only planet, of which we know that life evolved on it. Is there life on other planets, and how can we find it? How does such a planet look like, and which processes are involved? To detect life on other planets (also beyond our solar system), we first concentrate on the planetary surface. To do that, we start from two directions: To select particular planets (out of billions in the milky way) for investigation, we categorize them by their size, distance to their star and its luminosity, on one hand. Which properties matter ...



Interior dynamics and thermal evolution of planets and moons

The thermal evolution of terrestrial bodies is strongly influenced by the way heat is transported from the interior to the surface. Heat can be transported by either conduction and/or convection. The conductive heat transport dominates in the stagnant outer layer of a planet, i.e. the lithosphere, whereas convective heat transport usually dominates in the interior, i.e. the mantle and the core. Thermal convection occurs due to density changes of the material caused by temperature variations: heated material rises towards the surface because of its reduced density relative to the density of the surrounding material and cooled material sinks toward the centre because of its increased density. This convective heat transport is more efficient ...



Interior structure of planetary bodies

The determination of the interior structure of our neighbouring planets, their satellites and extrasolar planets, i.e. planetary bodies orbiting around stars other than the Sun, is one of the most important scientific objectives of ongoing and future space missions and ground-based observations. This is due to the fact that many, if not most planetary processes operating on a global scale are immediately affected by ...



Robex

The Helmholtz Alliance Robex aims to bring together technological challenges and scientific questions of space and deep-sea research, which rely on new technological solutions to exploring and observing extreme environments. Scientific advances in both environments are generally only possible by remote access and thus require very sophisticated robotic instrumentation. Up to now the scientific exploration and the technological advances in both fields of research have developed separately. However, ...



Seismology of planetary bodies

At the focus of an earthquake, elastic waves are produced that propagate through the planet. The speed of propagation depends on wave type (longitudinal or transverse) and the depth inside the planet. At the boundaries between the different layers of the planet (e.g. crust, mantle, core) the waves are refracted and reflected. After a quake, a seismograph at the surface can therefore register a large number of echoes of different amplitude. The timing of these echoes allows to deduce the interior structure of the planet. As an example, ...



Thermal and structural evolution of planetesimals and asteroids

The early evolution of the Solar system produced a vast variety of bodies of different size, composition, and structure. On one hand, small bodies (asteroids, comets, dwarf planets) are clustered in the asteroid belt and in the outer Solar system, while rocky planets populate its inner part and gas rich planets its outer part. On the other hand, for small bodies one can distinguish between the iron-silicate asteroids with ordinary chondritic composition (like Lutetia and Vesta) and, e.g., ice-silicate bodies whose composition is related to ...



Thermal probes

Planetary heat flow is a key quantity characterizing the thermal state of a planet. It has significant influence on processes like plate tectonics, magmatism, and the geological activity we observe at the planetary surface. The amount of heat radiated from the surface is closely connected to the concentration of heat producing elements in the interior, and its spatial variability is indicative of heat transport mechanisms operating in the planetary mantle. To determine ...




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