Future Missions Related to the Determination of the Elemental and Isotopic Composition of Earth, Moon and the Terrestrial Planets

Research areas:
  • Iannis Dandouras
  • Michel Blanc
  • Luca Fossati
  • Mikhail Gerasimov
  • Eike W. Guenther
  • Kristina G. Kislyakova
  • Helmut Lammer
  • Yangting Lin
  • Bernard Marty
  • Christian Mazelle
  • Sarah Rugheimer
  • Manuel Scherf
  • Christophe Sotin
  • Laurenz Sproß
  • Shogo Tachibana
  • Peter Wurz
  • Masatoshi Yamauchi
Space Science Reviews
In this chapter, we review the contribution of space missions to the determination of the elemental and isotopic composition of Earth, Moon and the terrestrial planets, with special emphasis on currently planned and future missions. We show how these missions are going to significantly contribute to, or sometimes revolutionise, our understanding of planetary evolution, from formation to the possible emergence of life. We start with the Earth, which is a unique habitable body with actual life, and that is strongly related to its atmosphere. The new wave of missions to the Moon is then reviewed, which are going to study its formation history, the structure and dynamics of its tenuous exosphere and the interaction of the Moon's surface and exosphere with the different sources of plasma and radiation of its environment, including the solar wind and the escaping Earth's upper atmosphere. Missions to study the noble gas atmospheres of the terrestrial planets, Venus and Mars, are then examined. These missions are expected to trace the evolutionary paths of these two noble gas atmospheres, with a special emphasis on understanding the effect of atmospheric escape on the fate of water. Future missions to these planets will be key to help us establishing a comparative view of the evolution of climates and habitability at Earth, Venus and Mars, one of the most important and challenging open questions of planetary science. Finally, as the detection and characterisation of exoplanets is currently revolutionising the scope of planetary science, we review the missions aiming to characterise the internal structure and the atmospheres of these exoplanets.