Minor In Planetary Science

This minor will provide students with a broad understanding of the application of the methods of astronomy and geology to the study of the Solar System, and develop the students' appreciation of how issues in the study of planets connect with larger issues in those sciences. It is intended for all students with an interest in the study of the Solar System, be it professional or avocational. In addition to Astronomy and Geology majors, we expect it especially to dovetail with the professional goals of Environmental Science and Policy, Environmental Science and Technology, Chemistry, Physics, Physical Sciences, and Secondary Education majors.

Administered jointly with the Department of Geology.

Minor Requirements (19-22 credits):

  1. One of the following:
    • ASTR 100 (Introduction to Astronomy) (3 credits)
    • ASTR 101 (General Astronomy) (4 credits)
    • ASTR 120 (Astrophysics 1) (3 credits)
    • or equivalent transfer course(s)
  2. One of the following:
    • GEOL 100/110 (Physical Geology w/ Lab) (4 credits)
    • GEOL 120/110 (Environmental Geology w/Lab) (4)
  3. One of the following:
    • ASTR 330 (Solar System Astronomy) (3)
    • ASTR 430 (The Solar System) (3)
    • GEOL 212 (Planetary Geology) (3)
  4. Plus three from the following list. At least one course must be from Geology and one from Astronomy. At least 6 credits from the list below and 9 credits overall must be at the 300-400 level (9-11 credits):
    • ASTR 220 (Collisions in Space - The Threat of Asteroid Impacts) (3)
    • ASTR 230 (The Science and Fiction of Planetary Systems) (3)
    • ASTR 380 (Life in the Universe) (3)
    • ASTR 498 (Special Problems in Astronomy) (3)
    • GEOL 322 (Mineralogy) (4)
    • GEOL 340 (Geomorphology) (4)
    • GEOL 412 (Geology of Terrestrial Planets) (3)
    • GEOL 437 (Global Climate Change, Past and Present) (3)
    • GEOL 499 (Special Problems in Geology) (3)
    • Or another appropriate astronomy or geology course approved in advance by the Astronomy or Geology advisor (3-4). (ASTR 315 qualifies, for example, when the topic relates to planetary science.)

No course with an earned grade below "C-" may count toward a minor. A student may use a maximum of six credits (two courses) to satisfy the requirements of both a major and minor. No more than two of the requirements may be taken at an institution other than the University of Maryland, College Park. At least six upper division credits applied to the minor must be taken at this university.

Procedure for Earning the Planetary Science Minor:

  • Email either the Astronomy or Geology Minor Advisors to ask any questions about the minor requirements and/or to request that the Astronomy minor be added to your record electronically. The minor should be added BEFORE YOUR FINAL 30 CREDITS ARE ATTEMPTED (i.e., before your senior year).
  • Complete all course work with a grade of C- or better.
  • Any revisions to your program must be approved by the Astronomy or Geology Minor Advisor.
  • Receive recognition on your transcript after graduation.

Astronomy and Geology Minor Advisors

Melissa Hayes-Gehrke (Astronomy)

John Merck (Geology)

Prerequisites for Courses

A student could complete the minor without having to take any prerequisite course not on the list of required courses. Depending on the choice of optional courses, a student may have to take additional courses as prerequisites. The courses with prerequisites are listed below:

  • ASTR 120 (co-req of MATH 140)
  • ASTR 430 (ASTR 120 & 121; PHYS 171, 272, & 273 or engineering physics; MATH 140, 141, 241, 246)
  • GEOL 322 (GEOL 100 or 120; GEOL 110; CHEM 131 & 132 or CHEM 135 & 136 or CHEM 103)
  • GEOL 340 (GEOL 100 or 120; GEOL 110)
  • GEOL 412 (GEOL 341 or 340)
  • GEOL 437 (GEOL 100 or 120; MATH 115 & 140; CHEM 131 & 132 or CHEM 135 & 136 or CHEM 103)

ASTR 498 and GEOL 499 require permission by the department offering the course. In general you will need to have a member of the faculty willing to supervise a research project.

Here are two possible plans for the planetary science minor:

Planetary Science Minor
Astronomy, physics, mathematics, and other science majorsOther majors
ASTR 120 ASTR 100 or ASTR 101
GEOL 100 & 110 or 120 & 110 GEOL 100 & 110 or 120 & 110
ASTR 430 ASTR 330
ASTR 380 ASTR 220
GEOL 322 ASTR 380
GEOL 437 GEOL 340