Planetary Science includes the study of the eight planets in our Solar System, of course, but the intellectual boundaries of planetary science extend far beyond. Such fundamental questions as the origin and evolution of other solar systems and the existence of extraterrestrial life require a very broad perspective that ranges from the subatomic world of fundamental particles to the macroscopic world of galaxies.
In pursuing such questions, planetary scientists merge relevant topics in traditional disciplines such as physics, chemistry, geology, biology, and astronomy with engineering and computational expertise. One consequence of this unique interdisciplinary foundation is the spectacular success of the nation's solar system exploration program.
The PTYS curriculum includes courses designed to meet the following needs of undergraduates:
- Lower division courses required by liberal arts majors to satisfy General Education requirements for science.
- Upper division courses for science majors who require a planetary perspective for career development.
- First Year Colloquia for freshmen in which specialized topics in planetary science are explored through discussion and conversation in small, informal classes led by faculty.
The Lunar and Planetary Laboratory is also one of the sponsoring departments for the undergraduate minor in Astrobiology.