Spring 2016 Graduate Courses

(Click here for PDF/printable class schedule with course times for PTYS, Spring 2016)

CourseTitle/Description (Credits)


Core Course

Cosmochemistry (3)

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)

(001) Zega | Course Page

PTYS 521

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.

(001) Griffith | Course Page

PTYS 522

Planetary Climate (3)

Physical and chemical processes governing the climate of planets. Climate feedbacks and stability; greenhouse e?ect, ice-albedo feedback, cloud feedbacks. E?ect of atmospheric circulation on climate. Milankovitch cycles and ice ages. Long-term atmospheric evolution; runawaygreenhouse,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.

(001) Showman


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.

(001) Zeng

PTYS 553

Core Course

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)

(001) Malhotra | Course Page

PTYS 575

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.

(001) Apai/Eisner

PTYS 584

The Coevolution of the Earth and the Biosphere (3)

A geochemical and biological perspective on a range of topics including: early Earth and life, oxygenation of the atmosphere, the Cambrian explosion, rise of land animals, Perman gigantism, mass extinctions, green-ice-hot houses, snowball Earth and Ediacaran fauna, the rise of hominids, megafauna extinctions. GEOS is home department; course is cross-listed with GEOS/PTYS/ASTR and may be co-convened with PTYS 484. May be applied to Astrobiology minor.

(001) Quade


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 but only three enrollments will count toward the major. Trip is led by a Planetary Sciences faculty member once per semester.

(001) Byrne | Course Page