Research group Planetary Interiors of the department Planets and Comets. Ulrich Christensen, planetary science, solar system research.

Research Group "Planetary Interior"

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The processes in the interior of planets are quite important for the development of life, and therefore is one of the major research topics of the "Planetary Interior" Research Group at MPS. We use a variety of tools in our studies: Theoretical work coupled with state-of-the-art computer simulations are used to model und better understand the dynamics of rocky mantles and iron cores. Science instrumentation onboard of orbiting spacecraft or landers provide useful and important data. Especially the modelling of the dynamo process producing the intrinsic magnetic field in the interior of a planet plays a major role in our research. The study of the magnetic field allows us to conclude about internal processes otherwise to measurable. More on the project page.

Since a couple of years MPS develops also space instrumentation to study the interior of the planets. Using seismometers on the surface of planets or moons seems to be a very promising approach. most of the knowledge about the Earth's interior is based on seismic measurements. MPS is involved in the INSIGHT mission to Mars. 

Laseraltimeter are used to measure the topology of a planet and are able to study e.g. the tides of a terrrestrial planet from which conclusions about the interior can be drawn. BELA, the laseraltimeter onboard the Bepi Colombo mission to Mercury, has been designed in a consortium with significant MPS participation.

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