The Visible Planet

The visible surface of the planet Earth has been studied the longest of any planetary subject and is the geologic field about which the most is known.The study of other planets begins with a comparison with the surface of the Earth. As long a time as humankind has been picking up rocks, looking at landforms, and attempting to predict the weather, infinitely more remains to be known about the surface of this planet. Looking back in time, geologists know how old the oldest rocks are on the planet's surface, but there is no consensus on what the surface of the Earth looked like before that earliest preserved record. Looking forward, climatologists clearly show that Earth conditions are variable and that humankind's contributions to the global environment are helping to push the Earth into an era of violent and extreme weather. In the present, volcanoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes are all the focus of research attempting to make people safer in the present day. Each of these phenomena can be found on other planets, as well, where their occurrence helps scientists understand their mechanisms here on Earth.

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