Alien Earths (3)
Thousands of planets have been discovered orbiting nearby stars. How many of these worlds can we expect to be Earth-like? We explore this question from the perspective of astronomers, geologists, and historians. We look back at Earth’s geologic history to periods when our planet itself would appear very alien to us today. We study the nearby planets Venus and Mars, which were once more Earth-like than today. We discuss not only the evolution of Earth, Venus, and Mars as habitable worlds but also how human understanding of these planets has evolved. Finally, we apply these perspectives to the search for alien Earths in our galaxy. This interdisciplinary treatment of Earth, its neighboring planets, and planets being discovered around nearby stars allows us to consider the potentially unique position of Earth as a habitable world not only in space but in time.Course Level: GenEd: Building Connections, GenEd: Quantitative Reasoning, GenEd: WritingCourse Level Other: Tier I NATS
Universe and Humanity: Exploring Our Place in Space (3)
This course places the Earth and humanity in a broad cosmic context and seeks to answer fundamental questions about our surroundings. Where are we and where do we come from? What is matter made of and what processes created it? What are different types of stars like and where does our Sun fit in? What is the role of stars in shaping the cosmos and the planets orbiting them? How did the Sun, the Earth, and the other planets in the solar system form? What are the planets in the solar system like and are there other planetary systems like ours? In addition to exploring these questions, this course will help students to understand how we have arrived at our current view of the universe, with a focus on the scientific method and the history of astronomy.Course Level: GenEd: Exploring Perspectives - Natural Scientist, GenEd: Quantitative Reasoning, GenEd: WritingCourse Level Other: Tier 1 NATS
Exploring Our Solar System (3)
Our Solar System is filled with an incredible diversity of objects. These include the sun and planets, of course, but also many hundreds of moons—some with exotic oceans, erupting volcanoes, or dynamic atmospheres. Billions of asteroids and comets inhabit the space between and beyond the planets. Each body is unique, and has followed its own evolutionary history. This class will explore our current understanding of the Solar System and emphasize similarities that unite the different bodies as well as the differences between them. We will develop an understanding of physical processes that occur on these bodies, including tectonics, impact cratering, volcanism, and processes operating in their interiors, oceans, and atmospheres. We will also discuss planets around nearby stars and the potential for life beyond Earth. Throughout the class, we will highlight the leading role that the University of Arizona has played in exploring our Solar System.
Course Objectives: Students who engage with this course will develop a broad understanding of many fundamental concepts in planetary science and gain an appreciation for the discoveries and reasoning that leads to this understanding. They will learn to collect their own data as well as gather relevant supporting information from a variety of outside sources. Throughout the semester students will be demonstrating their grasp of course material by composing written assignments at a level their peers outside of the class will understand (a.k.a., Students on the Street, or SOS). During the term project students will be assisted in working with telescopes to obtain astronomical images using their own smart phone cameras. Students will learn during in-class workshops how to use their own images to then construct a time-lapse animation. Expected Learning Outcomes: Upon successful completion of this course students will be able to (1) access and use information and data from a variety of sources, including their own activities, (2) critically evaluate this information and data for reliability in supporting fundamental concepts, (3) effectively communicate an understanding of these concepts to their SOS peers by synthesizing the information and data they have gathered, (4) demonstrate practical skills with a variety of software, including Word, Excel, Keynote, PowerPoint, and image/video editing apps.Course Level: GenEd: Exploring Perspectives - Natural Scientist, GenEd: Quantitative Reasoning, GenEd: Writing, PTYS Minor ElectiveCourse Level Other: Tier 2 NATS
Life in the Cosmos (3)
This course explores key questions in astrobiology and planetary science about the origin and evolution of life on Earth and the possibility that such phenomena have arisen elsewhere in the Universe. We examine what it means for a planet to be alive at scales ranging from cellular processes up to global impacts of biological activity. We survey international space-exploration activities to search for life within the Solar System, throughout our Galaxy, and beyond.Course Level: GenEd: Building Connections, GenEd: Quantitative Reasoning, GenEd: World Cultures & Societies, PTYS Minor ElectiveCourse Level Other: Tier 2 NATS
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.Course Level Other: PTYS Minor Elective
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 240. PTYS 403 is a required course for the PTYS Minor. Equivalent to ASTR/GEOS/PHYS 403.Course Level: PTYS Minor Core Course
Physics of the Solar System (3)
Survey of planetary physics, planetary motions, planetary interiors, geophysics, planetary atmospheres, asteroids, comets, origin of the solar system. Graduate-level requirements include an in-depth research paper on a selected topic and an oral class presentation. This course does not count toward the major requirements in Planetary Sciences. Equivalent to: ASTR 503, GEOS 503, and PHYS 503 (and cross-listed); may be co-convened with PTYS 403. PTYS is home department.Course Level Other: PTYS Graduate Elective
Chemistry of the Solar System (3)
Sample course syllabus, Pascucci (PDF)
Course Level Other: PTYS Graduate Core Course
Atmospheres and Remote Sensing (3)
PTYS Graduate Core Course. Structure, composition, and evolution of atmospheres; atomic and molecular spectroscopy; radiative transfer and spectral line formatting.
Sample course syllabus, Griffith (PDF)
Sample course syllabus, Yelle (PDF)
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.Course Level Other: PTYS Graduate Elective
Exoplanets: Discovery and Characterization (3)
This course will cover observational and theoretical ideas pertinent to planets orbiting other stars. Discovery and characterization techniques will be emphasized along with associated theory. In-class format will alternate from traditional lectures, guest lectures by local or visiting experts, and student-lead presentations.Course Level Other: PTYS Graduate Elective
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 is identical to ASTR 575; may be co-convened with ASTR 475. ASTR is home department.Course Level Other: PTYS Graduate Elective
High Energy Astrophysics (3)
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/PHYS 582. ASTR is home department.Course Level: PTYS Graduate ElectiveCourse Level Other: PTYS Graduate Elective
This astrochemistry course is the study of gas phase and solid state chemical processes that occur in the universe, including those leading to pre-biotic compounds. Topics include chemical processes in dying stars, circumstellar gas, planetary nebulae, diffuse clouds, star-forming regions and proto-planetary discs, as well as planets, satellites, comets and asteroids. Observational methods and theoretical concepts will be discussed. Graduate-level requirements include a project and an oral exam. Identical to ASTR 588A; may be convened with ASTR 488A. ASTR is home department.Course Level Other: PTYS Graduate Elective
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).Course Level: PTYS Graduate ElectiveCourse Level Other: PTYS Graduate Elective
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).
This 1-credit class will be a seminar on the Galilean satellites of Jupiter, four large worlds with complex orbital, tidal, and magnetospheric interactions. The course objective is for students to gain a first-order understanding of these worlds, and a more detailed understanding of some aspect of these satellites.
PTYS 595B (002), 3 units, Planet-Forming Collisions. The terrestrial planets grew in a series of massive late-stage collisions. Unlike impact cratering there is no impact locus when the colliding bodies are similar-sized, and the process is governed by angular momentum and self-gravity as much as by shocks and equations of state. The first half of the course will be lecture-based providing an essential background leading up to the major current science questions, and the second half will be focused on research projects culminating in final presentations.