Physics of Planets
In this course we will study the forces and influences that determine the composition, structure and evolution of the planets in our system. The keys to understanding solar system formation and evolution reside in observable planetary characteristics and those inferred from theory and indirect observation. Therefore, this understanding has evolved over the last several hundred years as telescope technology and space travel have enhanced our ability to make sophisticated measurements of much of the solar system. Students will gain an overall understanding of the physics governing the orbits, surfaces, subsurfaces, atmospheres and magnetospheres of the planets and planetary systems (moons and rings). These concepts will be placed in the context of current formation/evolution theories, and related open science questions will be discussed in terms of potential spacecraft missions.
Topics Covered

Solar System Overview
Basic Planetary Properties: Observable/Inferable
Orbital Dynamics
Energy Transport
Atmospheric Properties
Planetary Surfaces
Planetary Compositions
Planetary Interiors
Physics of Magnetospheres
Planetary Formation

There will be roughly 7 homework assignments that occasionally will include reading assignments to support the lectures. While you are both allowed and encouraged to work together on the homework assignments, you will be responsible for individually understanding the material. There will be one midterm and a final as well as a term project. The course grading breakdown is as follows: Homework problem sets 30%, Exams (midterm and final equally weighted) 35%, Term Project 30%, Class Participation 5%.


The required text for the class is Planetary Sciences, 2nd ed, by Imke de Pater and Jack Lissauer.  


Instructors: Carol Paty & James Wray                              Office: ES&T 2252 & 2234
Class: ES&T L1175, M/W/F 11:05-11:55                          Office Hours: M/W after class
Course Description