Spring 2014 Courses

Course Title & Description Instructor
ASTR 475

Planetary Astrobiology (3)

This course will explore the processes related to planet formation, the properties of planets and the planetary conditions required for the emergence of life. We will study the formation of our Solar System and exoplanetary systems, the distribution and properties of exoplanets, and the potential habitability of other planets/moons in our system or extrasolar systems. The course will also review science cases and possible future astrobiology studies, both in site and via remote sensing, of astrobiologically relevant environments. Toward the end of the semester a few guest lectures will highlight particularly exciting and timely topics. This course may be co-convened with ASTR/PTYS 575.

What are Research and Creative Expression: Water and Life on Mars (1)

Students will access planetary mission data to study the present and past Mars environment in regard to the activity of water and related possibilities that living organisms are or were extant on that planet. The student research will involve interdisciplinary work in astrobiology, hydrology, and planetary geology.
PTYS 170A1

Planet Earth: Evolution of the Habitable World (3)

This course develops a planetary perspective on the evolutionary processes that shaped Earth throughout history. We will examine why Earth is habitable, that is, why any kind of life can live on it, we will discuss the unique influences that biological processes and atmosphere/ocean systems have on each other, and we will review current notions of climate change, including evidence for the influence of human activities on it. This interdisciplinary treatment of Earth and its sister planets will encourage students to think about how science and engineering must be applied to today's challenges if humankind is to have a promising future on (and off) this planet. PTYS 170A1 is a Tier I Natural Science course in the University's general education curriculum. This course is co-convened (cross-listed) with ASTR 170A1.
Course page: PTYS 170A1 (001) Greenberg
Course page: PTYS 170A1 (002) Harris
Course page: PTYS 170A1 (003) Greenberg
PTYS 170B2

The Universe and Humanity: Origin and Destiny (3)

The Universe And Humanity: Origin And Destiny places Earth and humanity in a broad cosmic context. Topics range from the Big Bang cosmology to human consciousness with emphasis on the events and evolutionary processes that define the physical universe and our place in it. PTYS 170B2 is a Tier I Natural Science course in the University's general education curriculum. This course is co-convened (cross-listed) with ASTR 170B2.
PTYS 206

Our Golden Age of Planetary Exploration (3)

PTYS 206 emphasizes the part of the universe that is within reach of direct human experience and exploration. We will review current understanding of the contents of our Solar System and emphasize the processes that unite all of the planets and smaller bodies, such as tectonics, weathering, cratering, differentiation, and the evolution of oceans and atmospheres. The course will build on this knowledge to understand humankind's motivation to explore beyond our Solar System, especially to search for planets around distant stars and to look or listen for evidence of life elsewhere in the Universe. PTYS 206 is a Tier II Natural Science course in the University's general education curriculum. PTYS 206 is cross-listed with ASTR 206. Course requisites: Two courses from Tier One, Natural Sciences.
Course page: PTYS/ASTR 206 (001) Hubbard
PTYS 212/212H

The Science and Politics of Global Warming (3)

The course is devoted to the concepts and principles required for understanding the Greenhouse Effect. It will then cover the effects of global warming on our climate both for past warming and cooling episodes (ice ages) and future predicted effects on our lives and the environment. The last third will deal with the present and future political and commercial issues of global warming. A research paper and a class presentation on a selected topic of global warming will be required. PTYS 212/212H is a Tier II Natural Science course in the University's general education curriculum.
PTYS 342

Life on Mars: Fact and Fiction (3)

Life on Mars is likely to be a scientific "hot topic" for the rest of your life. After this class, you should have a good understanding of what planetary scientists think about the chances of life on Mars, why they think that, and how current and future spacecraft missions plan to address that. In addition, since life on Mars has been the subject of some classic science fiction for more than 100 years, with no signs of letting up, you should understand how that science fiction relates to science. My real goal is that as the current debate resolves itself, and as spacecraft explore Mars during the next few decades, you'll understand what's going on and which claims are important, and that as you read or watch science fiction dealing with Mars, you'll appreciate how it relates to past and present science and sci-fi.
Course page: PTYS 342 (001) Swindle
PTYS 403

Physics of the Solar System (3)

Survey of planetary physics, planetary motions, planetary interiors, geophysics, planetary atmospheres, asteroids, comets, origin of the solar system. Prerequisites: PHYS 142 or 251. PTYS 403 is a required course for the PTYS Minor.
Course page: PTYS 403 (001) Giacalone
PTYS 411

Geology and Geophysics of the Solar System (3)

Geologic processes and landforms on satellites and the terrestrial planets, their modification under various planetary environments, and methods of analysis. PTYS 411 is equivalent to GEOS 411 (not cross-listed). PTYS 411 is required for the PTYS Minor.
Course page: PTYS 411 (001) Byrne