Alien Earths

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: Writing
Course Level Other: 
Course Credits: 
Course Type: 

Semester Section Number Instructor(s) Day/Time Location Resources
2022 Fall 00001 Jessica Barnes MW 9:30-10:45a.m. Kuiper 308
2023 Spring 001 Steve Kortenkamp