PtyS 195A Freshman Colloquia, Wednesdays, Space Sciences 312, 11:00-11:50 a.m.

Instructor: William B. Hubbard, Professor of Planetary Sciences

Office: 417 Space Sciences

Office hours: by appointment

Telephone: 621-6942

Email: follow this link to the LPL directory

Objectives: Why do we have a space program? Humans have been exploring our solar system with manned and unmanned spacecraft for 50 years. In fiscal year 2013, US taxpayers will spend about $18 billion, or about 1/2 % of the federal budget, to support NASA. In this colloquium we will do some of our own exploring -- why are we doing this, and how does the US government decide what to do in space? We will look at the history of the space enterprise and the role of scientists. We will critically examine the basic human drives and the assumptions, some perhaps mistaken, that lie behind space exploration.

Requirements: Your grade will be based on attendance (10%) and on the quality and originality of your term paper (90%).  Your term paper is to be prepared as both a written (digital) and oral presentation.  Your oral presentation will be scheduled for about 15-20 minutes during one of the class periods.  You should turn in a digital file of your paper before you present it.  Your attendance grade will be based on participation in class discussion as well as just being present.  You may be excused from a class meeting by getting permission in advance from the instructor, or by providing a statement from the Dean of Students. There will be no tests or other assignments.  There is no text, although there will be suggestions for reading materials.

Students with Disabilities:

If you anticipate barriers related to the format or requirements of this course, please meet with me so that we can discuss ways to ensure your full participation in the course. If you determine that disability-related accommodations are necessary, please register with Disability Resources (621-3268; and notify me of your eligibility for reasonable accommodations. We can then plan how best to coordinate your accommodations.


Classroom Decorum: Be courteous to the instructor and to your fellow students by arriving on time and remaining attentive throughout the class period. Turn off cell phones and other electronic devices.


Schedule: (subject to change)

Jan. 9 Introduction

Jan. 16 How the laws of physics govern space travel
Jan. 23 Science fiction and its effect on the space program

Jan. 30 Political considerations early history
Feb. 6   More space history
Feb. 13 Scientific and political considerations
Feb. 15: news about the Chelyabinsk explosion

Feb. 20  Discussion of 2012 DA14 and Chelyabinsk

Feb. 27  Current space politics

Mar. 6  Threats from space real and imagined

Mar. 13 Spring Break - no class
Mar. 20  Anand Patel, Jesus Rivera, Samuel Seeger

Mar. 27    Josh Ritter, Nicole Fafard, Sochil Enriquez
Apr. 3   Katarina Saiza, Mateo Rivera-currier, Ryan Toomey

Apr. 10 David Tabata, Miles Rehwoldt, Bella Gomez
Apr. 17 No class (Juno team meeting)

Apr. 24  Heidi Ma, Mark Buxton, Matthew George
May 1  Jake Boucher, Maya Hussein, wrapup