2020 Fall

Core Course

Principles of Planetary Physics (3)

PTYS Graduate Core Course. Introductory physics of planetary and interplanetary gases, fluids and plasmas. Thermodynamics, kinetic theory, plasma physics, hydrodynamics, and magnetohydrodynamics with solar-system applications. This includes planetary atmospheres, turbulence, solar wind, solar-system magnetic fields, dynamo theory, and planetary magnetospheres. Students will be expected to be familiar with vector calculus and both ordinary and partial differential equations. Sample course syllabus, Giacalone (PDF).

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.

Core Course

Planetary Global Tectonics (3)

PTYS Graduate Core Course. Application of the physics of solid-state deformation to global tectonics of the terrestrial planets and icy moons of the solar system. Modes of topographic support, isostasy and implications for gravity/topography ratios on one-plate planets. Theory of floating elastic plates as an approximation to the lithosphere. Use of seismic data to determine the interior structure and composition and modes of heat conduction in planets.
Sample course syllabus, Andrews-Hanna (PDF)

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.

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.

(001) David O'Brien | Course Page | Syllabus

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.

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.

The Physics of the Sun (3)

The purpose of this course is to present an introduction to the physics of the Sun. Topics will include the physics of solar magnetic fields, solar interior and helioseismology, radiative transfer, solar wind, and solar-energetic particles. This course will introduce the equations of magnetohydrodynamics and apply them to important solar-physics problems. Examples include: the solar dynamo, the physics of sunspots and flares, origin of the solar wind, and the structure of the solar atmosphere. The emphasis throughout will be on basic physical processes and the various approximations used in their application to realistic and relevant problems. Identical to ASTR/ATMO/PHYS 537. PTYS is home department.

Observational Planetary Astronomy & Remote Sensing (3)

The course surveys current techniques and instrumentation used in observational astronomy, providing students with background that will allow them to consider the observational (empirical) basis of planetary astronomy. With this knowledge, students can begin to design observations to test their understanding of planetary atmospheres, surfaces, and orbital and bulk characteristics. Content includes: design of modern telescopes, optical configurations (e.g. adaptive optics), detectors, statistics, spectrometers and spacecraft instrumentation; UV, optical, infrared, sub-millimeter and radar techniques; basics of radiative transfer.

Planetary Surface Processes Seminar (1)

This seminar course will focus on discussion of planetary surfaces and their evolution, including geology of rocky planets and moons, icy surfaces and moons, regolith development, surface-atmosphere interactions, sub-surface structure and interiors, and climate change. The course will involve the exchange of scholarly information in a small group setting, including presentations and discussions of student research, reviews of recent science results and discussion of proposal ideas. Students will be expected to lead 1 to 2 presentations and participate in group discussions. This course is intended for graduate students; senior undergraduates may be able to enroll with permission of the instructor. Alternative Grading S, P, F; may be repeated for 10 completions/units.

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).

(003) Barnes, Carter | Course Page | Syllabus

Fall 2020 PTYS 595B (003). 4 units. Science and Exploration of the Moon. This course is an in-depth look at the Moon and lunar exploration. We will cover lunar composition, geology and geophysics, and will discuss lunar evolution. Students will gain a broad introduction to the lunar literature and datasets, and have a chance to spend time specifically delving into topics relevant to their research interests. We will also discuss lunar exploration, including current plans by NASA and commercial space. Assignments will include student presentations, homeworks/paper reviews, and a final team-based project to develop an instrument or mission that could be used to advance our understanding of the Moon. The class is 4 credit hours to support student work on the final project.

Asteroids, Comets and Kuiper Belt Objects (3)

This is an introduction to the "minor planets," the asteroids, comets and Kuiper Belt objects. The focus will be on origin and evolution (including current evolution), as well as techniques of study. It will include an evening at the telescope of an asteroid search program. Graduate-level requirement includes some original work or calculations in the paper/project submitted and to research one of the primary topics and lead the class discussion of it. PTYS 416 may be co-convened with PTYS 516.

Asteroids, Comets and Kuiper Belt Objects (3)

This is an introduction to the "minor planets," the asteroids, comets and Kuiper Belt objects. The focus will be on origin and evolution (including current evolution), as well as techniques of study. It will include an evening at the telescope of an asteroid search program. Graduate-level requirement includes some original work or calculations in the paper/project submitted and to research one of the primary topics and lead the class discussion of it. May be co-convened with PTYS 416.

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.

Dynamic Meteorology (3)

Thermodynamics and its application to planetary atmospheres, hydrostatics, fundamental concepts and laws of dynamic meteorology. Prerequisite: PHYS 426 or consent of instructor. ATMO is home department.

(001) Zeng

(101) Ciancarelli/Zeng

(102) Ciancarelli/Zeng

Dynamic Meteorology (3)

Thermodynamics and its application to planetary atmospheres, hydrostatics, fundamental concepts and laws of dynamic meteorology. Identical to ATMO 541A. ATMO is home department.

(001) Zeng

Inverse Problems in Geophysics (3)

Linear and nonlinear inverse theory, including least squares, generalized and maximum likelihood methods. Identical to GEOS 567 and ATMO 567. GEOS is home department.

(001) Bennett

Teaching Teams Professional Development Workshop (3)

Professional development for undergraduates of all disciplines in areas of peer instruction and mentoring, leadership, public speaking, group dynamics, and interview skills; also assists students with preceptorships.

(001) Kortenkamp/Edwards | Course Page

(002) Kortenkamp/Edwards | Course Page

(003) Kortenkamp/Edwards | Course Page

(004) Kortenkamp/Edwards | Course Page

Teaching Teams Internship (3)

Internship for students who have completed PTYS 297A (formerly LASC 297A), with at least one semester as a preceptor of a university-level course) to continue their reaching team education. Course covers elements of learning environments, communication skills, providing feedback, performance evaluation, and cooperative learning strategies.

(030) Kortenkamp/Edwards | Course Page

Professional Development in a Digital Age (2-3)

Professional development in areas that are affected by transition to digital formats. Students will learn about elevator pitches, communication, utilizing professional technologies, resumes and curriculum vitaes, online resumes and portfolios, professionalism within social media, searching for jobs online, and interviewing.

(001) Kortenkamp/Edwards | Course Page