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.
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.
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.
Astrobiology: A Planetary Perspective (3)
We will explore questions about the origin, evolution, and future of life on Earth and the possibility of life arising independently elsewhere in the Universe. We will examine what it means for a planet to be habitable, both in terms of basic necessities for living organisms to function and environmental limits to their ability to survive. Finally, we will review different approaches for searching for life within the Solar System and beyond using direct and remote sensing techniques. PTYS 214 is a Tier II Natural Science course in the University general education curriculum. PTYS 214 is cross-listed with ASTR 214 and GEOS 214. Course is equivalent to ASTR 202 (students may not receive credit for both courses).
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. PTYS 342 may not be applied toward the PTYS undergraduate minor.
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 and HWRS 411 (cross-listed). PTYS 411 is required for the PTYS Minor.
In-depth class about the planet Mars, including origin and evolution, geophysics, geology, atmospheric science, climate change, the search for life, and the history and future of Mars exploration. There will be guest lectures from professors and research scientists with expertise about aspects of Mars. There will be lots of discussion of recent results and scientific controversies about Mars. Graduate-level requirements include the completion of a research project that will be presented in class as well as a report. The research project could be analysis of Mars datasets, a laboratory experiment, or new theoretical modeling. Regular grades are awarded for this course: A B C D E. Prerequisite(s): PTYS 411, Geology of the Solar System is strongly recommended but not required. Equivalent to/crosslisted: ASTR 442, GEOS 442. May be convened with: PTYS 542.
Origin of the Solar System and Other Planetary Systems (3)
This course will review the physical processes related to the formation and evolution of the protosolar nebula and of protoplanetary disks. In doing that, we will discuss the main stages of planet formation and how different disk conditions impact planetary architectures and planet properties. We will confront the theories of disk evolution and planet formation with observations of circumstellar disks, exoplanets, and the planets and minor bodies in our Solar System. This course may be co-convened with PTYS/ASTR 550.
PTYS Graduate Core Course. This course discusses the chemical processes important for the formation of our solar system and that subsequently acted on the objects within the solar system. It also discusses nuclear processes responsible for synthesis of the elements and alteration of isotopic abundances. Sample course syllabus, Zega (PDF)
Physics of the Earth (3)
Fundamentals of the physics of the solid earth, including thermodynamics, rheology, geomagnetism, gravity, and plate tectonics. Graduate-level requirements include a term paper in publication format on some aspect of a major course topic. Identical to: GEOS 519; GEOS is home department. May be convened with: PTYS 419. Usually offered: Spring.
Dynamic Metereology (3)
Thermodynamics and its application to planetary atmospheres, hydrostatics, fundamental concepts and laws of dynamic meteorology. Graduate-level requirements include a more quantitative and thorough understanding of the subject matter. ATMO is home department.
In-depth class about the planet Mars, including origin and evolution, geophysics, geology, atmospheric science, climate change, the search for life, and the history and future of Mars exploration. There will be guest lectures from professors and research scientists with expertise about aspects of Mars. There will be lots of discussion of recent results and scientific controversies about Mars. Graduate-level requirements include the completion of a research project that will be presented in class as well as a report. The research project could be analysis of Mars datasets, a laboratory experiment, or new theoretical modeling. Regular grades are awarded for this course: A B C D E. Prerequisite(s): PTYS 411, Geology of the Solar System is strongly recommended but not required. Identical to: ASTR 542, GEOS 542. May be convened with: PTYS 442.
Origin of the Solar System and Other Planetary Systems (3)
This course will review the physical processes related to the formation and evolution of the protosolar nebula and of protoplanetary disks. In doing that, we will discuss the main stages of planet formation and how different disk conditions impact planetary architectures and planet properties. We will confront the theories of disk evolution and planet formation with observations of circumstellar disks, exoplanets, and the planets and minor bodies in our Solar System. This course is cross-listed with ASTR 550 and may be co-convened with PTYS 450.
Solar System Dynamics (3)
PTYS Graduate Core Course. Dynamical processes affecting the orbital evolution of planets, asteroids, and satellites, and the rotational evolution of solid bodies. Emphasizes modern nonlinear dynamics and chaos. Identical to ASTR 553. PTYS is home department. Sample course syllabus, Malhotra (PDF)
Plasma Physics with Astrophysical and Solar System Applications (3)
The goal of this course is to present an introduction to fundamental plasma physics and magnetohydrodynamics, beginning with kinetic theory. The various important limits including the vlasov equation and magnetohydrodynamics will be derived. Applications will be mostly from astrophysics and the solar system. These will include the main dynamical processes in the solar atmosphere, interplanetary medium, magnetospheres, interstellar medium, blast waves, accretion disks, etc. The emphasis throughout will be on basic physical processes and the various approximations used in their application to concrete problems. Identical to ASTR 558, PHYS 558.
Boundary Layer Meteorology & Surface Processes (3)
Designed for students in the atmospheric sciences, hydrology and related fields. It provides a framework for understanding the basic physical processes that govern mass and heat transfer in the atmospheric boundary layer and the vegetated land surface. In addition to the theoretical part of the course, there is a strong focus on modeling and students will be required to program numerical codes to represent these physical processes. Course may be repeated for a maximum of 6 unit(s) or 2 completion(s). Also offered as: ATMO 579, ENVS 579, HWRS 579, WSM 579. ATMO is home department.
High Energy Astrophysics (2)
A study of pulsars, black holes, accretion disks, X-ray binaries, gamma-ray sources, radio galaxies, active galactic nuclei, and the acceleration of charged particles near these objects, together with the radiation mechanisms they employ to produce the high-energy emission we detect at Earth. This course is identical to ASTR 582. ASTR is home department.
Topics in Theoretical Astrophysics (3)
Current topics in theoretical astrophysics in depth, with emphasis on the methodology and techniques of the theorist and the cross-disciplinary nature of astrophysics theory. Example subjects are nuclear astrophysics, hydrodynamics, transient phenomena, planetary interiors and atmospheres, neutron stars, jets and the evolution of star clusters. May be repeated for credit 1 time (maximum 2 enrollments). Identical to ASTR 589 and PHYS 589.
Planetary Geology Field Studies (1)
The acquisition of first-hand experience with geologic processes and features, focusing on how those features/processes relate to the surfaces of other planets and how accurately those features/processes can be deduced from remote sensing data. This is a three- to five-day field trip to an area of geologic interest where each student gives a short presentation to the group. This trip typically involves camping and occasional moderate hiking; students need to supply their own camping materials. Students may enroll in the course up to 10 times for credit. Trip is led by a Planetary Sciences faculty member once per semester. Altnerative grading (SPF).
Special Topics in Planetary Science (1-4)
Course will emphasize emerging and current topical research in Planetary Science; course will be offered as needed or required. Sample course topics might include an active spacecraft mission, an emerging research area, or new discoveries. Course may be co-convened with PTYS 495B. Graduate-level requirements may include an additional project for graduate credit and extra questions on exams, depending on the course/topic taught. Course may be repeated for credit 4x (or up to 12 units). Regular grades assigned (ABC).
PTYS 595B (001) Spring 2018. (3 units) Escape of Planetary Atmospheres. This course will examine the physical principles that determine atmospheric escape rates and apply them to current problems in the study of solar-system and extra-solar planets and the implications of atmospheric escape on evolution. We will review thermally driven Jeans escape, hydrodynamic escape, and polar winds, photochemical escape processes, and escape due to the interaction of the solar wind with upper atmospheres. In addition to the escape mechanisms, we will study the way that atmospheric structure is affected by escape and the limits this places on the escape rate. Specifically, we will study chemical, diffusion, and energy limits to the escape rate. Applications to these principles will include the study of escape on the Earth, Mars, Titan, Pluto, and Extra-solar planets and the role of escape in the evolution of these atmospheres and surfaces. The course will incorporate examination of the latest observational constraints on escape from these objects. The course will be interactive with students providing literature summaries and leading discussions on the course topics. Grading will be based on participation and a term project.