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).
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.
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). Sample course syllabus, Barnes (PDF)
Planetary Climate (3)
Physical and chemical processes governing the climate of planets. Climate feedbacks and stability; greenhouse effect, ice-albedo feedback, cloud feedbacks. Effect of atmospheric circulation on climate. Milankovitch cycles and ice ages. Long-term atmospheric evolution; runaway greenhouse,SnowballEarth, atmospheric loss/collapse, faint young Sun problem. Interaction of climate with geology/biology. Observable signatures. Habitable zones. Application to Earth, Mars, Venus, Titan, and habitability of extrasolar planets.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Dynamic Meteorology (3)
Thermodynamics and its application to planetary atmospheres, hydrostatics, fundamental concepts and laws of dynamic meteorology. Prerequisite(s): ATMO 300A, ATMO 300B, PHYS 426 or consent of instructor. ATMO is home department. Usually offered: Spring.
Physics of the Earth (3)
Fundamentals of the physics of the solid earth, including thermodynamics, rheology, geomagnetism, gravity, and planet tectonics. Prerequisite(s): MATH 254. GEOS is home department. May be convened with: PTYS/GEOS 519.
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.
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.
Planetary Materials (3)
This course discusses chemical thermodynamics and applies it to the origins and history of primitive planetary materials. The types of planetary materials will be discussed together with an overview of the chemical setting of their origins. We will discuss thermodynamic formalism, the various chemical pathways through which planetary materials are believed to have formed, the characterization and numerical methods we use to quantify such origins, and we will consider several case studies. May be co-convened with PTYS 513.
Planetary Materials (3)
This course discusses chemical thermodynamics and applies it to the origins and history of primitive planetary materials. The types of planetary materials will be discussed together with an overview of the chemical setting of their origins. We will discuss thermodynamic formalism, the various chemical pathways through which planetary materials are believed to have formed, the characterization and numerical methods we use to quantify such origins, and we will consider several case studies. Course may be co-convened with PTYS 413.
Radar Remote Sensing of Planetary Surfaces (4)
This graduate course will focus on the use of radar remote sensing for studies of planetary surfaces, including rocky and icy objects. It will cover the basics of how radar works including SAR and sounding (ground penetrating) radar, the use of different frequencies, an introduction to electromagnetic wave propagation including polarimetry, radar data processing, and the use of radar field equipment. The course will include a discussion of some of the past, current and future radars included on spacecraft and their design and science results. The course will be focused on geosciences; in particular, applications relevant to planetary processes such as regolith development, volcanism, cratering, fluvial deposits etc. This class includes 3 hours/week lecture plus a lab and fieldwork component. Cross-listed with GEOS 549; may be co-convened. PTYS is home department.