Habitable Worlds: Possible Places for Life in the Solar System and Beyond
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|Course Dates||Weeks||Meeting Times||Status||Instructor(s)||CRN|
|July 07, 2014 - July 11, 2014||1||M-F 9A-11:50A||Open||Stephanie Quintana, Ronald Daly||10561|
Does life exist anywhere else in the Solar System or galaxy? This week-long course will explore possible habitats for life on Mars, the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and extra-solar planets. Along the way, you will learn about the latest NASA missions, like the Curiosity rover studying Mars, the Cassini spacecraft studying Saturn, and the Kepler telescope hunting for planets around other stars.
This course focuses on the places where life might exist elsewhere in the Solar System or on planets around other stars. We will learn about the habitable zone around stars. We will discuss the factors that make a planet (or moon) a habitable place where life can survive. We will examine some of the extreme places where life lives on Earth, and explore other places where life might exist in the Solar System. We will study the planets being discovered around other stars and evaluate the possibility of life on these extra-solar planets. We will not only learn what we do (and do not) know, but also how we know these things.
For this course's final project, you will study an extrasolar planet and apply what you learn to decide whether that planet might be habitable. You will present your findings to fellow classmates.
This interdisciplinary course combines elements of planetary science, astrobiology, astronomy, geology, biology, physics, and chemistry. It provides a foundation for further study in any of these fields.
By the end of this course, students will be able to critically analyze the habitability of a planet or moon orbiting the Sun or another star. They will know the factors that influence habitability and understand some of the ways in which scientists study potentially habitable worlds in our Solar System and beyond.
The prerequisites for this course are algebra II and at least one year of earth and space science, physics, chemistry, or biology.