Fall 2016 Undergraduate Courses

CourseTitle/Description (Credits)


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

GEOS 419

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.

(001) Richardson

PTYS 170A1

Planet Earth: Evolution of the Habitable World (3)

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.

(001) Spitale

PTYS 170B2

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.

(001) Barman | Course Page

PTYS 206

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.

(001) Kortenkamp | Course Page

PTYS 212/212H

The Science and Politics of Global Warming (3)

The course is devoted to the concepts and principles required for understanding the Greenhouse Effect. It will then cover the effects of global warming on our climate both for past warming and cooling episodes (ice ages) and future predicted effects on our lives and the environment. The last third will deal with the present and future political and commercial issues of global warming. A research paper and a class presentation on a selected topic of global warming will be required. PTYS 212/212H is a Tier II Natural Science course in the University's general education curriculum.

(001) Yelle

PTYS 214

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).

(001) Pascucci

PTYS 416

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.

(001) Malhotra | Course Page


Special Topics in Planetary Science (3)

Fall 2016: Scientific Instrumentation for Spacecraft: Instrumentation for remote sensing and in situ measurements from the remote perspective of planetary probes, orbiting observatories, and landers have very specific requirements that affect their design and operation. In this course we will introduce several different technologies that are used to obtain spectroscopic, optical, and direct sampling measurements throughout the solar system. We will then discuss the limitation and trades associate with their use in the various environments encountered and platforms available in modern space exploration. The information provided here is intended to support student participation in the second of a two-course series where a mission concept will be developed.

Course may be co-convened with PTYS 595B. Graduate-level requirements may include an additional project for graduate credit and extra questions on exams, depending on the course/topic taught.

(001) Harris