The Planetary Science Major

Planetary science encompasses study of the physical and chemical nature of planetary bodies, both in the Solar System and in extrasolar systems. The formation of planets, the forces that sculpted their orbits, the processes that shaped their interiors, surfaces, and atmospheres, and the development of life all fall under its rubric. Understanding these complex phenomena requires knowledge of astronomy & astrophysics, earth science, meteorology, atmospheric science, space science, plasma physics, chemistry, and biology. A Planetary Science `track' or focus within both the Astronomy Department and the Department of Earth and Planetary Science has been developed to study the remarkable interface among these separate disciplines. In EPS the student will receive more training in geology/geophysics/atmospheric sciences, while in astronomy, planetary science is studied via remote sensing (astronomy).

Planetary Science Track in Astronomy:

Despite its interdisciplinary nature, a firm grounding in mathematics and physics is strongly recommended for astrophysics majors interested in the planetary sciences. A solid foundation in math and physics provides basic tools for quantitatively analyzing the rich phenomenology exhibited by planetary systems. Thus, astrophysics majors having strong interests in the planetary sciences are encouraged to adopt the focused major curriculum.

Upper division electives of possible particular interest to such students include courses offered by the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS) and the Department of Mathematics that cover physical processes and analytical techniques having application towards all planetary bodies. Such elective classes include:

Below is a sample curriculum for astrophysics majors interested in the planetary sciences that follows a similar philosophy to that for focused astrophysics majors. Note that the total number units below is 80; only 66 units are required for the astrophysics major, and 120 units are required for graduation.

Freshman: Fall (Math 1B, Phys 7A, Chem 1B)
Spring (Math 53, Phys 7B)
Sophomore: Fall (Math 54, Phys 7C, Astro 7A)
Spring (Astro 7B, EPS 50)
Junior: Fall (EPS 108, Phys 110A, Phys 137A or Chem 120A)
Spring (Phys 112 or Phys 110B, Astro 160)
Senior: Fall (Astro 162, Astro 120 or Astro 121 or Astro 122)
Spring (EPS 122, EPS 180 or 181 or EPS 182, EPS 117)

Planetary Science Track in EPS:

Lower division required courses (Same as for atmospheric science):

Upper division required courses (20 units required):

An additional 14 units are required from the following courses:

Departmental Contacts:

Department of Astronomy
Dexter Stewart
611 Campbell Hall
(510) 642-8520

Department of Earth and Planetary Science
Margie Winn
305 McCone
(510) 642-5574