High-precision laboratory studies of meteorites as well as terrestrial and lunar rocks, which reveal tiny differences in isotopic composition, provide valuable insights into the formation and evolution of the early Solar System, enable dating important events, and help us understand how our Solar System with its planets, moons, and small bodies became what it is today.
Comets and asteroids are relicts of the solar system about 4.5 billion years ago, a time when the planets did not yet exist. Observing these objects with groundbased telescopes or with camera systems and spectrometer onboard spacecraft allow us to study the properties of the early solar system.
The interplanetary space in the vicinity of planets and small bodies is filled with neutral and charged particles created during the interaction of the solar wind with planetary atmospheres, or created in sputtering processes of objects with solid surfaces without atmosphere, or created in volcanic processes existent.
The interior of planets is a major research topic at MPS. Theoretical modelling and computer simulations in combination with the data analysis of instruments like seismometers or laser altimeters are used as tools to investigate the dynamics of rocky mantles or iron cores.
The Sun’s planets and small objects have undergone substantial evolution. Deciphering the history of our cosmic home is not a simple task even though we now have access to a multitude of data gathered by space missions, remote observations, and laboratory studies of diverse samples. A significant fraction of materials available for the study of planetary bodies come from meteorites.
The Planetary Plasma Environments group (PPE) has a strong heritage in the exploration of planetary magnetospheres and space plasma interactions throughout the solar system. It has contributed instruments to several past missions that flew-by or orbited Jupiter (Galileo, Cassini, Ulysses). The PPE participates in the JUICE mission by contributing hardware and scientific expertise to the Particle Environment Package (PEP).