ASTR 688P: Planetary Science

Fall 2008


Prof. Michael F. A'Hearn
Mon, Wed 14:00-15:15 CSS 0201

Urgent Notices!!! Schedule changes, urgent issues, etc. Last updated: Monday, 09-Aug-2010 13:48:16 EDT, mfa

Text: Planetary Science by Imke de Pater & Jack Lissauer
A second edition is coming out in spring 2009 but will not be available for this course.

Assignments: All will be linked here.

This course will survey the science of our planetary system with an emphasis on the aspects of it that help us understand the origin of the system and thus the relevance to other planetary systems. The text is intended for a year-long course,so it will be used selectively to fit into one semester.

Topics will include planetary atmospheres, surfaces, and interiors and the small bodies of the solar system (asteroids, comets, Kuiper-belt objects). We will consider the dynamics of these bodies and the physics and chemistry of these bodies. Dynamics will include, for example, discussions of resonances, migration of the planets during formation, and scattering of comets into the Oort cloud. Chemistry will emphasize determination of abundances and removing the effects of photochemistry to separate photochemical effects from sources of the gases, both in planetary atmospheres and in cometary atmospheres. Physics will include hydrostatic equilibrium, equations of state, thermal conductivity, heat generation, and so on. The very tentative schedule of topics is available as a Syllabus.

Topics covered in the text that we will not cover during the course, at least not more than peripherally, include magnetospheres and rings. It will likely be necessary, due to time pressures, to minimize the time spent on atmospheric circulation except in so far as it shows patterns from one planet to another. Similarly, planetary surfaces will emphasize those aspects that tell us about formation and evolution - active vs. inactive interiors, cratering, etc. Although meteorites are in the syllabus for two lectures, it may be neccessary to drop this topic to better cover other topics.

Students should expect homework assignments, largely but not exclusively from the text. Students should expect to be solving differential equations and learning to approximate differential equations via dimensional analysis. Collaboration on homework is allowed, but copying of homework is not. You should be aware of the University's Code of Academic Integrity, which is available at the web site of the Student Honor Council.

Due to the instructor's travel, it will likely be necessary to reschedule some classes. Any such rescheduled classes will be arranged to fit everyone's schedule.

Grading: The overall grade for the course will be based on homework, a mid-term exam, and a final exam. These will have relative weights of ROUGHLY 30%, 30%, and 40%, respectively. The numerical grading scale will be designed to spread out the grades and will NOT correspond to A >90, B>80, etc.


Created: 11 Aug '08, mfa; Last updated: Monday, 09-Aug-2010 13:48:16 EDT, mfa