Ge 177

Cosmos-Extraterrestrial Geology

(Fall Semester (2000)

Prof. J. Christopher Hepburn Teaching Assistant:

Devlin Hall 323, 552-3642 To be announced

(Office hours Mon. 2-4, Tu. 5-6:00

or by appointment)


Class meets Tuesday evenings, 6:30-9:00 in Devlin 008. Exploration of our Solar System is well underway and will expand during your lifetimes. What are the results of this exploration to date? What do we know about other planets and their moons? What is the 2000 view of how the Solar System formed? Is there a possibility of extraterrestrial life in the Solar System? These are some of the topics we will investigate this semester. Ideas about our Solar System are rapidly evolving as we continue to explore our neighborhood in space. By December you should have not only a better understanding of our Solar System and how it and you originated, but some idea of how modern science works. Certainly you will realize that science is not static and that great discoveries lie ahead.

The course grade will be determined by quizzes and/or homework problems (20%), a mid-term (30%) and final exam (50%) based upon the lectures and assigned readings. All students are expected to take exams at the scheduled time unless they have a medical excuse signed by a doctor and the Dean. During the term two 25 minute quizzes will be given based on recent material. Quizzes will be announced in class one week in advance. The format of the quizzes will include both essay and short answer type questions and will be similar in style to the mid-term and final exams to give you some idea of what the actual tests will be like. Class attendance is important since data, pictures, videos and other material will be presented in class that may not be in the reading. Thus, students should realize they will not have the opportunity of making up most material missed (each class represents a week's work!). Reading assignments are designed to give more detail on many topics than time allows for in class presentation. Please note that the readings are an important part of the course and do not just reiterate lecture material. Some topics in the reading will not be covered in class, covered in a different order, or covered from a different perspective. Suggestions on how to read the different assignments will be discussed. Also, exciting Web sites with recent data on planetary exploration will be given in class or are referenced in the text. Don't hesitate to go beyond the text and visit these sites.

The textbooks for the course are:

"Foundations of Astronomy," Sixth Edition, 2001., by Michael A. Seeds

"Red Giants and White Dwarfs" by Robert Jastrow

In addition, Cosmos, by Carl Sagan will be on reserve in the library as a supplement to some of the videos we will see and a number of other articles will also be on reserve in OíNeill. Additional reading or web URLís from NASA and other sources will be given in class.

Cosmos-Extraterrestrial Geology

Lecture Schedule and Reading Assignments

Fall Semester 2000

Sept. 5 Introduction, Origin of the Universe, Cosmological Time

Reading Robert Jastrow, "Red Giants and White Dwarfs, (RGWD) 1990 edition, Preface, Prologue and pp. 1-36. In Foundations of Astronomy (Astronomy), Sixth Edition by Michael A. Seeds, Read: A Note, pp. XII-XIII; pp. 1-14, 98-101, 111-120 and Chapt. 19, pp. 388-410. Read quickly for background Chapter 4 and think about the timing of astronomical advances in connection with other events in history. Also note the Appendices and the Glossary at the back of the book and try out the CD-ROM included with the book. Note the summaries and other study aids at the end of the chapters. Supplementary reading: Cosmos by Carl Sagan (on reserve), Chapters 1 and 10 which summarize the video seen in class. Read for additional information or if you missed the video.

Sept. 12 Origin of Stars and Galaxies, Stellar Evolution

Reading (RGWD) pp. 37-65; (Astronomy) pp. 76-90, the only formula you need to learn is that for gravity, p. 83; Chapter 7, pp. 123-144; Chapt. 9, p. 171-181. Read quickly, Chapter 17. Sept. 19 Where do the atoms that make up the Earth and you originate? Origin of the Elements, Black Holes, Neutron Stars, etc.

Reading (RGWD) pp. 66-93; (Astronomy) Chapter 8, pp. 146-157, 164-168; Chapt. 12 pp. 224-233; Chapt. 13, pp. 244-257; Chapter 14, pp. 268-284.

Supplementary reading: Cosmos Chapter 9 which summarizes the video seen in class.

Sept. 26 Origin of our Sun, the Solar System and the Earth.

Reading (RGWD) pp. 94-103, pp. 179-188; (Astronomy) Chapter 15; Read quickly Chapter 16. Supplementary reading: (Astronomy) pp. 377-385 if you are interested in Quasars

Oct. 3 Differentiation of the Earth, its Atmospheres and Oceans. Introduction to the Interior of the Earth. (The Earth will be used as a "type" example of a planet to compare with other planets and moons.

Reading (RGWD) pp. 179-188; (Astronomy) Chapter 20

Oct. 10 The Geologic Processes that made Life on Earth Possible. Plate Tectonics, the Moving Continents on Earth: Hows and Whys.

Reading (Astronomy) Chapter 21; National Geographic V. 168, #2 August 1985, pp. 142-181 (on reserve).


Test on reading and lecture material to date.

Oct. 24 Mid-Term Exam Review; Seasons, Tides, Eclipses, the Earth-Moon System.

Reading (RGWD) pp. 104-129; (Astronomy) Chapter 2, pp. 20-29; Chapter 3, pp. 31-50. .

Oct. 31 Evolution of the Moon

Reading (Astronomy) Chapter 22, pp. 456-470, read quickly Chapter 26

Nov. 7 The Inner Planets - Mercury & Venus

Reading (Astronomy) Chapter 22 pp. 471-476; Chapter 23, pp. 479-490.

Nov. 14 Geology & Surface Features of Mars

Reading (Astronomy) Chapter 23, pp. 490-505; (RGWD) pp. 136-165;

Nov. 21

Thanksgiving Holidays--no class

Nov. 28 Possibilities of Life on Mars, Viking Experiments, Alan Hills Meteorite, Pathfinder Mission Results and Latest Findings;

The Outer Planets and Their Moons I (The Voyager and Galileo Missions)

Reading (Astronomy) Chapter 24, Chapter 27

Dec. 5 The Outer Planets and Their Moons II; Course Summary

Reading (Astronomy) Chapter 25

Dec. 11 & 12 Study Days Finish assigned reading

Dec. 19 Final Exam, 6:30 PM.

The Final Exam will be at the normal class time, 6:30 PM in Devlin 008. The exam time can not be changed or the exam given early as per instructions from the Dean, so please make plans accordingly. The format of the exam will be discussed in class during the final weeks of the course.