Ice Cores and Climate on an Alien World
Thousands of Earth-like planets around other stars will soon be known, but the Earth could be unusual and not make a good comparison. Earth’s climate is so complicated that despite decades of space-based observations and ice-core analysis we only recently discovered how drastically it’s changing. Mars offers another Earth-like climate without the complicating effects of oceans, life and human activity, but still possessing ice caps that record its climate. Studying Mars’ climate record, with the tools we’ve developed here on Earth, helps us understand the climate of Earth-like planets both in our solar system and throughout the galaxy. The University of Arizona continues to play a leading role in exploring Mars ice and climate through our past and present spacecraft instruments and missions. I’ll describe the progress we’ve made and our future exploration directions.