This Priority Programme is an Earth Science-based coordinated research programme that addresses the still open question how Earth became the only known habitable rocky planet covered by oceans and an oxygenated atmosphere. Most likely, a unique combination of processes during Earth’s early evolution was necessary to make Earth habitable, but these processes and their interplay are still poorly constrained. This programme focusses on the crucial time-span when Earth became habitable, but before life itself blossomed. The core approach is to use the terrestrial and extraterrestrial rock record to reconstruct key parameters and processes that set the stage on which life subsequently formed and evolved. New research avenues recently emerged from the increased availability of pristine old terrestrial and extraterrestrial sample materials, the development of novel analytical techniques and of experimental and computational approaches that all allow investigating early planetary and geological processes in unprecedented detail.
Central to the programme is the chemical inventory and evolution of the different reservoirs in the Earth and its asteroidal building blocks, the chemical differentiation of Earth into a metal core, silicate mantle, differentiated crust, hydrosphere and atmosphere, as well as the complex interactions and feedback loops of these reservoirs with the evolving biosphere that successfully made Earth a life sustaining environment.
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