Subject details

  • Topics
    • An introduction to the interdisciplinary field of planetary science
    • Orbital dynamics: 2, 3 and N-body problems; perturbations and resonances; tides; dissipative forces
    • Solar heating and radiative equilibrium
    • Planetary atmospheres: thermal structure, composition, meteorology, photochemistry, escape
    • Planetary surfaces: morphology, mineralogy, cratering
    • Planetary interiors: modelling internal structure, terrestrials and giants
    • Magnetospheres: dipole magnetic fields, plasma, planetary magnetospheres
    • Debris: meteorites, asteroids, comets and planetary rings
    • Planet formation and the origin of the Solar System
  • Study resources
    • Instructional Methods
      • Disscusion forum/Discussion Board
      • Embedded Multimedia
      • Online Quizzes/Tests
      • Online assignment submission
      • Standard Media
      • Web links

At the completion of this subject students will be able to:

  1. Distinguish that planetary science is an inter-disciplinary field involving astronomy, physics, chemistry and geology and describe inter-related concepts in a non-technical manner understandable to the general public
  2. Explain planetary orbits and discuss the nature of gravity in shaping our Solar System
  3. Discuss planetary atmospheres, surfaces and interiors and explain specifically what they can teach us about planet formation
  4. Explain and discuss the origins and evolution of our Solar System
  5. Use problem solving skills to explain and synthesise solutions to problems in planetary science
  6. Design and create a research project on an astronomy topic, assessing and critiquing
  7. current knowledge, using credible sources of astronomical information, data and research articles.
  • Assignment 1 - Online tests x 2 (20%)
  • Assignment 2 - Newsgroups (30%)
  • Assignment 3 - Project (50%)

Textbooks are subject to change within the academic year. Students are advised to purchase their books no earlier than one to two months before the start of a subject

Entry Requirements

Equivalent Subjects

You cannot enrol in this unit if you have successfully completed any of the following subject(s) because they are considered academically equivalent:

  • SWI-HET620

You must have successfully completed the following subject(s) before starting this subject:

Special requirements

No special requirements

This subject provides a detailed understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of planetary science - combining astronomy, geology, chemistry, and atmospheric science. It will investigate the origins and evolution of our Solar System, the terrestrial and giant planets, planetary atmospheres and surface phenomena. This subject assumes familiarity with Exploring the Solar System.

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