Courses

Introduction to Planetary Science

The course will offer a review of processes responsible for the formation and the physical and chemical modification of the surfaces of the terrestrial planets, and the surface histories so recorded. Topics covered:

[1] The origin of chemical elements; Proto-solar nebula chemistry; Planetary accretion and differentiation and their chemical signatures;

[2] Orbital dynamics;

[3] Remote sensing; Reflection of light from natural surfaces;

[4] Vacuum environments; Heat and radiation; Quantitative modeling; Evidence for ice on Moon and Mercury;

[5] Wind on Mars and Venus; Water and ice on Mars;

[6] Chemical alteration of planetary surfaces; Fingerprints of alteration in remote and in-situ exploration;

[7] Planetary volcanism; Chemical composition of volcanically erupted crust and associated release of volatiles;

[8] Atmospheric evolution, including atmospheric escape and chemical processes that affect the composition of the atmosphere; Runaway greenhouse on Venus; Atmospheric collapse on Mars; Atmospheric regulation on Earth;

[9] Impact cratering;

[10] Crustal scale features; Gravity and topography; Crustal structure; Tectonics and gravity modification;

[11] The geologic history of Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars.

In addition, there may be a one-day field trip to southern Israel, to observe and interpret the geologic phenomena discussed in the lectures and labs.

Topics in Planetary Surfaces

Reading about and discussion of current understanding of the surface of a selected terrestrial planet, major satellite, or asteroid. Important "classic" papers will be reviewed, relative to the data that are being returned from recent and current missions. Grades based on assigned oral and written presentations. May be repeated for credit.

Previously Taught:

Ge 151. Fundamentals of Planetary Surfaces. 9 units (3-3-3).

Prerequisite: Ge 11 abc or equivalent.

Review of surface histories and processes responsible for the formation and modification of the surfaces of the terrestrial planets and the Jovian satellites. Topics: exogenic surface processes, including impact, gravitational degradation, atmospheric modification of surfaces by wind and water, and the direct interaction of surfaces with plasmas; endogenic modification of surfaces by tectonics and volcanism; surface histories of Mercury, Venus, the moon, and Mars; the surfaces of icy bodies. Grades assigned on basis of homework and written and oral term project.

For more information, see http://www.gps.caltech.edu/classes/ge151/.

Ge 156. Topics in Planetary Surfaces. 6 units (3-0-6).

Prerequisite: Ge 151 or permission of the instructor.

Reading about and discussion of current understanding of the surface of a selected terrestrial planet, major satellite, or asteroid. Important "classic" papers will be reviewed, relative to the data that are being returned from recent and current missions. Grades based on assigned oral and written presentations. May be repeated for credit.

For more information, see the class page http://www.gps.caltech.edu/~oa/ge156/.

Ge 108. Applications of Physics to the Earth Sciences. 9 units (3-0-6); first term.

Prerequisites: Ph 2 and Ma 2 or equivalent.

An intermediate course in the application of the basic principles of classical physics to the earth sciences. Topics will be selected from: mechanics of rotating bodies, the two-body problem, tidal theory, oscillations and normal modes, diffusion and heat transfer, wave propagation, electro- and magneto-statics, Maxwell’s equations, and elements of statistical and fluid mechanics.

For more information, see the class page http://www.gps.caltech.edu/~oa/ge108/.

Ge 109. Oral Presentation. 3 units (1-0-2); third term.

Practice in the effective organization and delivery of reports before groups. Successful completion of this course is required of all candidates for degrees in the division. Graded pass/fail. Co-taught with K. Bikle.