Coupling Modules

Coupling VPLanet modules is a powerful way to study phenomena in an interdisciplinary manner. While developing and validating a new module coupling can be challenging, many unsolved problems in planetary evolution require connecting physical models in novel ways. This page provides the basics for module coupling, but it is important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to solving these problems – every module combination is unique. Before attempting a new module coupling, we strongly encourage you to be familiar with developing VPLanet by, for example, adding new options and/or outputs and fully understanding the code architecture.

Getting Started

The first step in coupling modules is to determine how they connect. In some cases, one module is completely dependent on another, such as atmospheric escape and stellar evolution, or climate and orbital evolution. In those cases, the escape doesn’t influence the star, and the climate doesn’t impact the orbit. These couplings are the simplest to implement as they don’t include feedbacks. An example of a feedback is the evolution of eccentricity due to tidal damping and planet-planet interactions: As the eccentricity decays due to tides, the planet’s effects on other planets weakens, but the other planets continue to pump up the tidally damping planet’s eccentricity. In practice, implementing these two types of couplings are similar, but the second case is a bigger task that will likely require more preparation and development time.

Recall that the module source files, e.g. atmesc.c, cannot contain references to other modules. Subroutines that connect modules must be placed in the higher level files of body.c, system.c, options.c, output.c, halt.c, module.c.

Multi-Module Subroutines

Most of the work in connecting modules lies in module.c in subroutines that end with the extension “Multi”. The three that you are most likely to use are: VerifyMulti, ForceBehaviorMulti, PropsAuxMulti, and . The first part of module.c contains numerous subroutines related to initializing the modules, so coupling modules does not depend on those functions as they are required for the creation of an individual module.

The first set of multi-module functions are the VerifyModuleMulti functions, which perform the checks to ensure that a user who has selected multiple modules for a body has chosen self-consistent input. As with single-module Verify, the specifics of multi-nodule verification are unique to the problem. In the subroutine you create here, you are free to include whatever checks are necessary. At the end of each function you can add multi-module function for PropsAux and ForceBehavior. Once you have coded up your function, add a call to it in the actual VerifyModuleMulti function in module.c. Finally, check VerifyModuleCompatability and remove any existing exit calls that are associated with the new module combination.


All VerifyModuleMulti functions are called even if only 1 module has been selected by the user because some default behavior depends on if other modules have not been selected.

If your module coupling requires PropsAux and/or ForceBehavior functions that are unique to the coupling, you can then add them in module.c, too. All multi-module functions are called after the single-module functions, so if something is set in one of those functions, you can change the setting in the multi-module functions. Note that you can build as complex a multi-module function as you like, i.e. connecting all modules, and use the VerifyMulti framework to add/remove functions to the Control->fnPropsAuxMulti and Control->fnForceBehaviorMulti function pointer matrices. Just be mindful of the order in which the VerifyMulti functions are called.

Multi-Module Derivatives

In some case, a multi-module combination may necessitate new derivatives that are not required for single-module runs. VPLanet also includes a framework for this possibility with the UpdateMulti and AddModulesMulti functions in module.c. These functions are analogous to those for single module functions. Follow the example for semi-major axis if EqTide and STELLAR are called for a binary star system.