Earth, Mars, and Titan are the only known planetary bodies of our solar system that maintain, or maintained at some point in their recent past, active flowing liquids, which gave a rise to the formation of river networks. These liquid flows, generated by atmospheric precipitation, eroded the topography of the surfaces, generating manifold landscapes observable on remote sensing data. Evidence for this interplay between atmosphere, hydro(carbon)sphere, and lithosphere is imprinted in drainage basins, also known as watersheds or catchments. Such drainage basins are ideal candidates for comparative planetology studies as they highlight past fluvial activity in a visually compelling manner. In this project, we investigate how the information gained through the drainage basins morphologies is linked to the prevailing climatic conditions of a body in the time of drainage basin formation. Understanding how atmospheric and hydrologic processes are connected to observable geologic surface features, will give us insights on periods and places where climatic data are not available.
Earth presents a unique opportunity for detecting the interacting physical mechanisms between atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere. The terrestrial diversity of basin morphology and climatic conditions indicates Earth as an excellent analogue for studying other places of our solar system, where there is still limited information of their past (Mars) or current atmospheric and geologic processes (Titan). Nowadays, with the exponential increase in the quantity and quality of Earth observations, as well as the enhancement of our computational capabilities and the development of data-driven classification methods, new opportunities emerge to obtain more information about the properties of other planetary bodies by comparing those to terrestrial system characteristics.
SCHEMATA capitalizes to the achievements in comparative planetology, Earth observation and machine learning to further extent our understanding of the interrelated atmospheric and geologic processes of Earth, Mars, and Titan. To achieve this, we will apply well-established classification methodologies used in geosciences to high-resolution spatial information available from Earth observations to perform a series of exhaustive comparative analyses of drainage basins between our three targets of interest. The interpretation of the results will provide insights and constraints on how morphology and climate are linked and whether one can extrapolate knowledge that is already achieved on terrestrial environments to other places of our solar system.