What other planets can teach us about Earth

A composite image shows Earth from the vantage point of a spacecraft in orbit around our planet’s moon in October 2015. Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

Sometimes, you need to leave home to understand it. For Stanford planetary geologist Mathieu Lapôtre, “home” encompasses the entire Earth.

“We don’t only look at other planets to know what’s out there. It’s also a way for us to learn things about the planet that’s under our own feet,” said Lapôtre, an assistant professor of geological sciences in the School of Earth, Energy, & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth).
Scientists since Galileo have sought to understand other planetary bodies through an earthly lens. More recently, researchers have recognized planetary exploration as a two-way street. Studies of space have helped to explain aspects of climate and the physics of nuclear winter, for example….

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