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Undergraduate Catalog 2016-2017

Planetary Sciences

The minor in Planetary Sciences 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, it dovetails with the professional goals of Environmental Science and Policy, Environmental Science and Technology, Chemistry, Physics, Physical Sciences, and Secondary Education majors.

Building on a three-course base of fundamental knowledge of astronomy, geology and an introduction to the Solar System, the program is completed by three advanced courses addressing specific topics adding depth to the student's knowledge of planetary astronomy and to the geologic tools of the planetary scientist. Students are required to sample from optional courses from both departments. The Joint Minor in Planetary Sciences does not require significant prerequisite knowledge, however some optional courses may require prerequisites of 100-level courses in chemistry, mathematics, or geology.

Courses required for the proposed minor are:


One of the following:

  • ASTR100 Introduction to Astronomy (3)
  • ASTR101 General Astronomy (4)
  • ASTR120 Introductory Astrophysics - Solar System (3)

One of the following:

  • GEOL100/110 Physical Geology/Physical Geology Lab (4)
  • GEOL120/110 Environmental Geology/Physical Geology Lab (4)

One of the following:

  • ASTR330 Solar System Astronomy (3)
  • ASTR430 The Solar System (3)
  • GEOL212 Planetary Geology (3)

Plus three from the following:
At least one choice must be from Geology and one from Astronomy. At least six credits from the list below and nine credits overall must be at the 300-400 level

  • ASTR220 Collisions in Space - The Threat of Asteroid Impacts (3)
  • ASTR230 The Science and Fiction of Planetary Systems (3)
  • ASTR380 Life in the Universe - Astrobiology (3)
  • ASTR498 Special Problems in Astronomy (3)
  • GEOL322 Mineralogy (4)
  • GEOL340 Geomorphology (4)
  • GEOL412 Geology of Terrestrial Planets (3)
  • GEOL437 Global Climate Change, Past and Present (3)
  • GEOL499 Special Problems in Geology (3)
  • Or another appropriate astronomy or geology course approved in advance by the Astronomy or Geology advisor (3-4)

Depending on the optional course taken, there is a total of 19-22 required credits (see prerequisites). All courses presented for the minor must be passed with a grade of "C-" or better.

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