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What makes Earth habitable? We know that the presence of liquid water is required, but are there other important characteristics of Earth that have made it noticeably more able to support life compared to its sibling planets Mars and Venus? One intriguing possibility is Earth’s magnetic field, which may have protected Earth’s atmosphere by preventing important species from escaping away to space. Neither Venus nor Mars possess global magnetic fields. Determining whether a magnetic field is necessary (or even helpful) for making a planet habitable is becoming increasingly important in an era where we have detected thousands of planets orbiting other stars, and want to know whether they are capable of supporting life.