Introduction to Planetary Science


Course Objective

This course introduces the field of planetary science from an earth
science perspective. For decades, planetary science was the realm of
astronomers. This has changed completely over the past two decades:
thanks to an ever increasing number of space missions carrying ever more
sophisticated geological and geochemical instrumentation, earth
scientists are now at the forefront of developments in planetary
science. In this course, you will be introduced to modern planetary

Course Content

You will be given an overview of current ideas about the formation and
early dynamics of our solar system, about the geological evolution of
the surfaces and interiors of key solar system bodies including the Moon
and Mars, and about the search for life outside the Earth. Discussion of
the main tools used in planetary science missions will also be included,
and the course will include an excursion to the ESTEC research center of
the European Space Agency (ESA) in Noordwijk. The course can also serve
as a basis for further education and research in planetary science
offered in the MSc Earth Sciences at the VU.

Teaching Methods

Lectures, limited number of homework exercises, development of a
planetary mission, and short presentation about recent planetary science
peer reviewed paper.

Method of Assessment

Written exam (50 per cent) and presentation (50 per cent)


Handouts based on Powerpoint presentations

Target Audience

The course is open to all BSc students in Earth Sciences and all other
natural sciences that have completed their first and second BSc years.

Recommended background knowledge

Basic knowledge of, or a deep interest in, geology and/or geochemistry

General Information

Course Code AB_1227
Credits 6 EC
Period P2
Course Level 300
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator prof. dr. W. van Westrenen
Examiner prof. dr. W. van Westrenen
Teaching Staff prof. dr. W. van Westrenen

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar, Lecture
Target audiences

This course is also available as: