Comparative planetology


  • D. J. Stevenson


Perhaps the most striking broad implication of what we have learned from the data that have been returned from planetary missions is that planetary processes are diverse and complex. Scientists are challenged to extend the dynamic range of their models and theories and are often forced to recognize that each planet or satellite is special. Nevertheless, the principles of physics are common to all these objects, and the emerging outcome of this challenge is a better understanding of how planets work and a better appreciation of the earth as a planet. The comparative approach to planets, although sometimes frustrating, is invaluable and was the focus of a meeting held at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Pasadena, June 5–7, 1985.