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Viewing: MEA 240 : The Planets of Our Solar System

Last approved: Thu, 22 Mar 2018 08:00:15 GMT

Last edit: Wed, 21 Mar 2018 12:11:05 GMT

Change Type
Major
MEA (Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences)
240
032586
Dual-Level Course
Cross-listed Course
No
The Planets of Our Solar System
Planets!
College of Sciences
Marine Earth & Atmospheric Science (17MEA)
Term Offering
Fall Only
Offered Every Year
Fall 2018
Previously taught as Special Topics?
Yes
1
 
Course Prefix/NumberSemester/Term OfferedEnrollment
MEA 493-008Fall 201625
MEA 493-005Fall 201720
Course Delivery
Face-to-Face (On Campus)

Grading Method
Graded with S/U option
3
16
Contact Hours
(Per Week)
Component TypeContact Hours
Lecture3
Course Attribute(s)
GEP (Gen Ed)

If your course includes any of the following competencies, check all that apply.
University Competencies

Course Is Repeatable for Credit
No
 
 
Paul K. Byrne
Assistant Professor

Open when course_delivery = campus OR course_delivery = blended OR course_delivery = flip
Enrollment ComponentPer SemesterPer SectionMultiple Sections?Comments
Lecture4040NoEnrollment number is based upon anticipated number of MEA geology, marine, and atmospheric science majors, previously expressed interest in the course, and the prospect of non-MEA majors enrolling for this course.
Open when course_delivery = distance OR course_delivery = online OR course_delivery = remote


Is the course required or an elective for a Curriculum?
No
This course will cover the formation mechanisms, physical properties, and processes of the vast array of bodies that compose our Solar System, and how they compare and contrast with our own world. Among the diverse range of topics we will explore are planetary formation, volcanism of Mars, the deep oceans of Jupiter's icy moons, the atmosphere of Venus, and the fate of our Sun. We will also focus on what other planetary bodies can tell us of the early and future Earth, as well as the conditions required for planetary habitability. Finally, we will consider the exciting field of exoplanet research, including the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and discuss key milestones in the exploration of the Solar System. Delivered through lectures, in-class discussion, and associated reading, the course will be assessed through a series of quizzes, an essay, a group project, and two mid-term exams and a final exam.

There are few courses that explore the link between Earth system processes and other planetary bodies in the nation, and even internationally. This is despite the fact that much of what we understand of the processes that shape our world are replicated on many others throughout the Solar System. Moreover, the surfaces, atmospheres, and interiors of other worlds can provide insight into what our planet looked like early in its history, a history now lost through plate recycling and the hydrological cycle. An understanding of how planetary processes operate, and the spatial and temporal scales over which they occur, will enhance the student's understanding of the other courses in their major concentration, and at the same time providing a more holistic view of their homeworld and the forces that shape its surface.


No

Is this a GEP Course?
Yes
GEP Categories
Natural Sciences
Humanities Open when gep_category = HUM
Each course in the Humanities category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Mathematical Sciences Open when gep_category = MATH
Each course in the Mathematial Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Natural Sciences Open when gep_category = NATSCI
Each course in the Natural Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:
 
 
(Objective 1: use the methods and processes of science in testing hypotheses, solving problems and making decisions)
An example of one of the student learning outcomes that is relevant to the GEP Natural Sciences Objective 1 is “Describe the primary differences in surface processes between planets that host atmospheres and those that do not.”

Students will learn what atmospheric processes shape planetary surfaces (e.g., dunes, ventifacts, aeolian deposits, and erosional landforms), and will then predict how the surfaces of planetary bodies without atmospheres will look in comparison with those bodies with atmospheres. They will test these predictions by independently assessing spacecraft images of bodies without atmospheres, characterizing the key differences in type and shape of the landforms that are present on those bodies, and describing what those landforms would look like were at atmosphere present.
 
 
Quizzes and/or mid-term or final exams will be used to determine if students have achieved this outcome. An example of such an assessment is: “Identify from the following images [provided as part of the assessment] the planetary body shown here, describe the landforms present that are directly or indirectly attributable to atmospheric processes, and predict how the surface of this planetary body would look without an atmosphere.”

Students will have achieved this outcome if they can successfully identify the planetary body shown in the figures they are provided, can identify which landforms are partly or fully the result of atmospheric processes (including, but not limited to, wind-driven erosion, chemical interaction with the atmosphere, and deposition of material carried by wind), and finally make predictions for which landforms would not be present, and/or how those present would look, were that body to not have an atmosphere.
 
 
An example of one of the student learning outcomes that is relevant to the GEP Natural Sciences Objective 2 is “Predict what conditions, processes, landforms, and marine and atmospheric chemistries were present on early Earth, and what equivalent properties might develop on Earth as the Solar System ages.”

Students will learn what physical and chemical conditions were present in the early stages of Earth history, which would have reflected the energy output of the Sun, the thermal evolution of Earth's interior, and the composition of the planet's atmosphere. They will then make inferences about what the future conditions within and on Earth will be like, informed by their understanding of solar evolution, the heat production within Earth, and the various processes that influence atmospheric chemistry (including the presence and strength of a planetary magnetic field).
 
 
Quizzes and/or mid-term or final exams will be used to determine if students have achieved this outcome. An example of such an assessment is: “Given what you know about the interplay between solar irradiance, radiogenic heat production, and atmospheric and ocean composition, describe what physical and chemical processes will operate on the surface of Earth one billion years from now.”

Students will have achieved this outcome if they can successfully describe the physical and chemical states of Earth's surface, atmosphere, and oceans in one billion years as a consequence of increased solar radiation, reduced heat production in the planet's interior, and reduced volume of water to lubricate subducting plates and thus reduced rates of plate tectonic activity.
Social Sciences Open when gep_category = SOCSCI
Each course in the Social Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Interdisciplinary Perspectives Open when gep_category = INTERDISC
Each course in the Interdisciplinary Perspectives category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Visual & Performing Arts Open when gep_category = VPA
Each course in the Visual and Performing Arts category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Health and Exercise Studies Open when gep_category = HES
Each course in the Health and Exercise Studies category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
&
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Global Knowledge Open when gep_category = GLOBAL
Each course in the Global Knowledge category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to achieve objective #1 plus at least one of objectives 2, 3, and 4:
 
 

 
 

 
Please complete at least 1 of the following student objectives.
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

US Diversity Open when gep_category = USDIV
Each course in the US Diversity category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to achieve at least 2 of the following objectives:
Please complete at least 2 of the following student objectives.
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Requisites and Scheduling
100%
 
a. If seats are restricted, describe the restrictions being applied.
 
No restrictions are being applied.
 
b. Is this restriction listed in the course catalog description for the course?
 
N/A
 
List all course pre-requisites, co-requisites, and restrictive statements (ex: Jr standing; Chemistry majors only). If none, state none.
 
None.
 
List any discipline specific background or skills that a student is expected to have prior to taking this course. If none, state none. (ex: ability to analyze historical text; prepare a lesson plan)
 
None.
Additional Information
Complete the following 3 questions or attach a syllabus that includes this information. If a 400-level or dual level course, a syllabus is required.
 
Title and author of any required text or publications.
 
There are no required texts or publications.
 
Major topics to be covered and required readings including laboratory and studio topics.
 
See attached syllabus and Course Schedule.
 
List any required field trips, out of class activities, and/or guest speakers.
 
There are no required field trips or out of class activities planned for this course. Guest speakers may occasionally present to the class as part of their visit to the Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences but are otherwise not anticipated to feature in the course.
This course will be delivered by Dr. Paul Byrne, Assistant Professor in the Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences (MEAS), as part of his regular course load. The existing educational resources in MEAS are sufficient to allow him teach this course, including classroom space, audio–visual technology, and online tools. No new resources are necessary or sought.

The course goals include:

a.    Introducing students to the range of processes and landforms on, and the evolutionary paths taken by, planetary bodies in the Solar System other than Earth;

b.    Augmenting students' understanding of their previous, current, and future coursework by providing a large-scale spatial and temporal context for that information, by extending surface, marine, and atmospheric topics from Earth to other planetary bodies; and

c.    Facilitating students' critical-thinking capabilities by requiring that they consider the entire Earth system—surface, ocean, and atmosphere—as one of only many different configurations possible in this and other star systems.


Student Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

1.    Identify the dominant processes that control solar system formation and that lead to rocky, icy, gaseous, and icy planets and moons;

2.    Account for the range of landforms observed throughout the Solar System in terms of their development, relationship to composition, thermal evolution, and distance from the Sun;

3.    Describe the primary differences in surface processes between planets that host atmospheres, and those that do not;

4.    Characterize the similarities and differences between oceans on Earth and those that exist or are thought to have existed on other planetary bodies;

5.    Provide examples of the variety of minor bodies in the Solar System, how those bodies formed, where they are located, and the means by which their compositions are known;

 6.    Explain what conditions are required for planetary habitability, and whether those conditions may be, or once were, present on any Solar System bodies other than Earth;

7.    Predict what conditions, processes, landforms, and marine and atmospheric chemistries were present on early Earth, and what equivalent properties might develop on Earth as the Solar System ages;

8.    State the principal methods by which exoplanetary bodies are discovered, what types of star these bodies have been found to orbit, and how our solar system compares with others so discovered; and

9.    Document the major milestones in Solar System exploration, the primary methods by which planetary bodies are explored, and how these discoveries have impacted our understanding of Earth system science.


Evaluation MethodWeighting/Points for EachDetails
Quiz16%/80 points totalEight quizzes, worth 2% each, will be given during the semester; cumulative quiz score is 16%/80 points.
Essay16%/80 PointsA single essay, assigned in the first half of the semester, and due at the start of the second half of the semester, covering a topic of the student's choice related to the course theme.
Project20%/100 PointsOne group project (where each group consists of ~5 students, depending on final enrollment), assigned in the latter half of the semester and due by semester's end; project includes written and oral presentation components, and represents 20%/100 points of the course total (overall score for group assigned to each group member).
Midterm32%/160 PointsTwo in-class tests examining the course content covered during the first half of the semester; each represents 16%/80 of the course points.
Final Exam16%/80 PointsA test at the end of the semester in which all material covered during the course can be examined; this test places an emphasis on synthesis of course material, and represents 16%/80 of the course points.
TopicTime Devoted to Each TopicActivity
N/A: see attached syllabusN/AN/A
N/AN/AN/A
N/AN/AN/A
N/AN/AN/A
N/AN/AN/A
N/AN/AN/A
N/AN/AN/A
N/AN/AN/A
N/AN/AN/A
N/AN/AN/A

aaiyyer (Fri, 17 Feb 2017 01:34:10 GMT): Rollback: Hi Paul, see if you can edit it now
jflevine (Tue, 05 Sep 2017 18:12:46 GMT): Rollback: returned as requested
lamarcus (Tue, 05 Sep 2017 18:43:58 GMT): Rollback: Rollback at Carrie Thomas request - e-mail 9/5/17.
Key: 13535