First-Year Seminar: Mysteries of the Earth and Planets: Fact, Fiction, or Undetermined
The class focuses on debate and discussion about a major scientific issue that either is or has been an important question in Earthand planetary science. A series of topics might include: continental drift, volcanic vs. impact origin of craters, cause of dinosaur extinction, origin of the Moon, the 'face' on Mars, the dark side' of the Moon, life on Mars, debris in the solar system, origin of asteroids, and whether Pluto is a planet. Written permission required.
Remote Sensing of Earth and Planetary Surfaces
Geologic applications of remotely sensed information derived from interaction of electromagnetic radiation (X-ray, gamma-ray, visible, near-IR, mid-IR, radar) with geologic materials. Applications emphasize remote geochemical analyses for both terrestrial and extraterrestrial environments. Several spectroscopy and image processing labs. Prerequisites: GE 23, PH 6 or equivalent, or permission of the instructor.
Planetary Science Seminar: Special Topics in Spectroscopy
Focus on several areas of new research and current topics not necessarily covered in the core curriculum but of interest and importance to planetary scientists. Emphasis on critical evaluation of ideas, approach, results, and implications. Example topics include extra-solar-system planets, sample return issues, unanswered questions about Mercury, Pluto, etc.
Asteroids and Meteorites
Compositional and petrographic characteristics of meteorites are examined along with the physical and compositional diversity of asteroids and other small bodies of the solar system. Possible links between specific types of asteroids and meteorite groups will be evaluated in the context of early solar system evolution. Data from spacecraft encounters with asteroids will be critically reviewed.
Particulate material (regoliths) and soils develop on every planetary surface. Physical and chemical alteration of the uppermost surface results from interwoven active processes of specific environments. Understanding these processes and products is central to interpreting data returned from planetary surfaces. Regoliths reflect surface history over a variety of time scales. Several planetary environments are examined in detail. Prerequisites: GE 141, 171, 288, or instructor permission.
Instructor: C. M. Pieters
Characteristics of one or more planetary bodies are examined to illustrate critical geological problems related to planetary formation and evolution. This year emphasis is on the Moon. The surface and interior will be examined, as well as global composition and spacecraft data. Recommended courses: GEOL 1420, 1450, and 1710.