Building Terrestrial Planets
This article reviews our current understanding of terrestrial planet formation. The focus is on computer simulations of the dynamical aspects of the accretion process. Throughout the review, we combine the results of these theoretical models with geochemical, cosmochemical, and chronological constraints to outline a comprehensive scenario of the early evolution of our solar system. Given that the giant planets formed first in the protoplanetary disk, we stress the sensitive dependence of the terrestrial planet accretion process on the orbital architecture of the giant planets and on their evolution. This suggests a great diversity among the terrestrial planet populations in extrasolar systems. Issues such as the cause for the different masses and accretion timescales between Mars and Earth and the origin of water (and other volatiles) on our planet are discussed in depth.