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A holistic approach to understand Earth formation

Project description

The origin of Earth as a habitable planet

Despite several models having been formulated in recent decades, the fundamental question of how Earth formed, with the properties that made it a habitable planet, remains unsolved. All proposed models have only been tested against a limited number of constraints (sometimes different constraints for different models, with no common intersection). The EU-funded HolyEarth project’s goal is to solve this difficulty with a holistic approach, which consists in considering the largest set of available observational constraints to identify a unique scenario which, for the first time, simultaneously satisfies all these constraints in a self-consistent way and places the formation of Earth in the context of a cosmic evolution towards stars and planets.

Objective

How did Earth form with the properties that made it the only inhabited planet of the Solar System? Answering this question is the Holy Grail of planetary science and is key for (i) placing the formation of Earth into the context of general planet formation (ii) unveiling the fundamental processes that led to the formation of a planet able to sustain life and (iii) assessing the likelihood that similar processes occurred in other, extrasolar systems. However, despite decades of research, it is still unknown how Earth formed. Although several competing models exist, the reason we do not yet have a consensus on how Earth formed is that all proposed models have only been tested against a limited number of constraints (and sometimes different constraints for different models) with no common intersection. HolyEarth will overcome these limitations by developing a holistic approach to understand Earth’s formation that is based on the largest set of observational constraints: orbits, masses, formation timescales, chemical and isotopic properties of terrestrial planets and meteorites, and the structure of the asteroid belt (the relict of planet formation). The overarching goal of this project is to identify a unique scenario which, for the first time, simultaneously satisfies all these constraints in a self-consistent way. This project will break the boundaries between Earth science and astronomy by placing the formation of Earth in the context of a cosmic evolution towards stars and planets. Its impact will reach other scientific domains, such as biology and exobiology, and resonate with the public’s keen interest in the question of our origins.

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Coordinator

CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS
Net EU contribution
€ 1 854 875,00
Address
Rue michel ange 3
75794 Paris
France

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Region
Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
Activity type
Research Organisations
Links
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (3)