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Courses Taught Academic Year 2018-2019

GEOL 0050 Mars, Moon, and the Earth
J. F. Mustard
Fall 2018

Space exploration has revealed an astonishing array of surface features on the planets and their satellites. Why are atmospheres on the planets different from Earth's atmosphere? Do other planets represent our past or future environment? Is there life on other planets? The planets and their histories are compared to gain insight and a new perspective on planet Earth.

GEOL 1330 Global Environmental Remote Sensing
J. F. Mustard
Spring 2019

Introduction to physical principles of remote sensing across electromagnetic spectrum and application to the study of Earth's systems (oceans, atmosphere, and land). Topics: interaction of light with materials, imaging principles and interpretation, methods of data analysis. Laboratory work in digital image analysis, classification, and multi-temporal studies. One field trip to Block Island. Recommended preparation courses: MATH 00900100PHYS 0060; and background courses in natural sciences.

GEOL 1390 Planetary Surface Processes
B. C. Johnson
Fall 2018

This course is designed to introduce students a variety of physical and chemical processes that shape and sculpt the surfaces of solid planetary bodies (asteroid, comets, moons, & terrestrial planets). We will learn the ways mountains can form and how their topography is supported (Is Venus’ 11 km high Maxwell Montes the result of a rising mantle plume? among other questions). This course will cover the processes of faulting, tectonics, volcanism, impact cratering, landslides, and weathering from wind, and water. These processes will be explored from a physical quantitative perspective.

GEOL 2330 Advanced Remote Sensing
J. F. Mustard
Spring 2019

Strategies and the physical principles behind the quantitative extraction of geophysical and biophysical properties from remotely sensed data. Emphasis on radiative transfer theory and modeling of spectra and spectral mixtures from optical constants. Advanced methods of digital image processing. Methods of integrating remotely sensed data into a GIS framework will be introduced. Recommended preparation course: GEOL 1330 or 1710MATH 0100PHYS 0600.

GEOL 2870 Planetary Evolution – Origin/Evolution of the Moon: Touchstone for Understanding Planets
J. W. Head
Fall 2018

The Moon forms a fundamental baseline for our understanding of the origin of planets and their early evolution, in terms of primary and secondary crustal formation, core and mantle formation and evolution, magnetism, impact basins, and global tectonics. A major goal of this course is to identify major outstanding questions and scientific and exploration goals for future robotic and human exploration missions to the Moon. Sponsored by NASA SSERVI, the lecture series is jointly organized by SSERVI teams at Brown University and the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston with many affiliated SSERVI institutes participating.

GEOL 2910H Geophysics of the Inner Solar System
A. J. Evans
Fall 2018

This graduate level course will survey the current state of knowledge for geophysical processes and mechanisms related to the formation and evolution of terrestrial bodies within the inner Solar System. The course will apply fundamental science concepts in physics and chemistry to examine key topics within planetary geophysics, including planet-wide magma oceans, planetary collisions and impacts, volcanism, tectonics, and magnetism. The course is formatted to allow for lecture content and presentation and discussion of relevant themes and concepts. No prior background in the geological sciences is required.

GEOL 2920G Special Topics in Geological Sciences: Exoplanet Seminar
A. V. Johnson
Spring 2019

The goal of this course is to introduce students to the study of planets orbiting other stars. Learning outcomes:  Recognize the methods for detection and characterization of exoplanets, and the information these methods provide about exoplanetary systems; Discuss planet properties that can be derived from observational methods; Summarize our understanding of exoplanet populations; Recognize cutting edge work being done in the field of exoplanets – such as the search for exomoons, habitability, and biosignatures; Recall updated facilities (both ground and space based) for future exoplanet studies; Assessment of journal articles and synthesizing material across sources; Completion of an independent project on an outstanding question in exoplanet science

GEOL 2920P Special Topics in Geological Sciences: Geological History of Mars
J. W. Head
Spring 2019

In many ways, Mars is the most Earth-like planet in the Solar System and may have once had a climate conducive to the origin and evolution of life. We will trace the geologic history of Mars (atmospheric, climatic, eolian, fluvial, lacustrine, oceanic, volcanic, impact crater, tectonic, interior evolution) from the present back through the Amazonian, Hesperian, Noachian and pre-Noachian to the origin of Mars, examining the main themes in its evolution in order to provide a comparative framework for the other terrestrial planets and satellites.

 

CoursesTaught at Other Times

GEOL 0810 Planetary Geology
R. E. Milliken
Geology of solid planets. Focuses on a mission to Mars through an understanding of processes that shape planetary surfaces. Terrestrial analogs, conceptual models, and laboratory simulations are used as reality checks. Integration of these processes through time reveals the geologic evolution of the planets. Three lectures and one discussion session per week. Prerequisite: GEOL 0010 or 0050 or 0220 or written permission.

GEOL 1330 Global Environmental Remote Sensing
J. F. Mustard
Introduction to physical principles of remote sensing across electromagnetic spectrum and application to the study of Earth's systems (oceans, atmosphere, and land). Topics: interaction of light with materials, imaging principles and interpretation, methods of data analysis. Laboratory work in digital image analysis, classification, and multi-temporal studies. One field trip to Block Island. Prerequisites: MATH 0090, 0100; PHYS 0060; background courses in natural sciences; or permission of the instructor.

GEOL 1710 Remote Sensing of Earth and Planetary Surfaces

R. E. Milliken
Geologic applications of remotely sensed information derived from interaction of electromagnetic radiation (X-ray, gamma-ray, visible, near-IR, mid-IR, radar) with geologic materials. Applications emphasize remote geochemical analyses for both terrestrial and extraterrestrial environments. Several spectroscopy and image processing labs. Prerequisites: GEOL 0230, PHYS 0060, or equivalent, or permission of the instructor.

GEOL 2800 The Chemistry and Mineralogy of Mars
Examination of the chemical and mineralogical composition of Mars as revealed from meteorites and spacecraft missions. Example topics include: SNC meteorites, origin and evolution of the crust, alteration processes, remote near- and thermal-infrared observations, remote gamma-ray and neutron measurements, and petrology of surface materials. Recommended courses: GEOL 1410, 1420, 1710, or equivalent. No prerequisites.

GEOL 2810 Planetary Science Seminar
Staff
Focus on several areas of new research and current topics not necessarily covered in the core curriculum but of interest and importance to planetary scientists. Emphasis on critical evaluation of ideas, approach, results, and implications. Example topics include extra-solar-system planets, sample return issues, unanswered questions about Mercury, Pluto, etc.

GEOL 2810 Planetary Science Seminar
J. Head
New data for the Moon and Mercury from recent missions (including Chandrayaan-1, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, GRAIL and MESSENGER) permit new insights into “The Crater to Basin Transition on the Moon and Mercury”. In this seminar course we will examine this transition using these new data and recent developments in cratering theory and modeling. The course will feature research from the NASA SSERVI activity. Prerequisites: Instructor permission. M Hour (3:00 PM-5:20 PM Mondays).

GEOL 2840 Asteroids and Meteorites
R. E. Milliken
Compositional and petrographic characteristics of meteorites are examined along with the physical and compositional diversity of asteroids and other small bodies of the solar system. Possible links between specific types of asteroids and meteorite groups will be evaluated in the context of early solar system evolution. Data from spacecraft encounters with asteroids will be critically reviewed.

GEOL 2850 Regolith Processes
Staff
Particulate material (regoliths) and soils develop on every planetary surface. Physical and chemical alteration of the uppermost surface results from interwoven active processes of specific environments. Understanding these processes and products is central to interpreting data returned from planetary surfaces. Regoliths reflect surface history over a variety of time scales. Several planetary environments are examined in detail. Prerequisites: GEOL 1410, 1710, 2880, or instructor permission.

GEOL 2860 Planetary Volcanology
J. W. Head
An examination of volcanism using observations of features and deposits on planetary bodies, comparing them to predictions from the theory of magma ascent and emplacement. Attention to the influence of different variables (e.g. gravity, composition, temperature, pressure, and atmospheric effects). The history of planetary volcanism, its relation to thermal evolution, and comparative planetary volcanology are also addressed. Offered alternate years.

GEOL 2870 Planetary Evolution
Staff
Characteristics of one or more planetary bodies are examined to illustrate critical geological problems related to planetary formation and evolution. This year emphasis is on the Moon. The surface and interior will be examined, as well as global composition and spacecraft data. Recommended courses: GEOL 1420, 1450, and 1710.

GEOL 2870 The Origin and Evolution of the Moon
J. W. Head
A Graduate Seminar on “The Origin and Evolution of the Moon”, sponsored by the NASA Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI).  The goal of the course is to identify and investigate major outstanding questions and scientific and exploration goals for robotic and human exploration of the Earth’s Moon.

GEOL 2870 Planetary Evolution: Phobos and Deimos: The Moons of Mars
J. W. Head and K. Ramsley
A major goal of the course is to identify major outstanding questions and scientific and exploration goals for robotic and human exploration of Phobos and Deimos. Sponsored by NASA SSERVI, the series is jointly organized and led by SSERVI teams at University of Central Florida (CLASS) and Brown University/MIT (SEEED) with many SSERVI-affiliated institutions participating.

GEOL 2880 Planetary Cratering
B. Johnson
Impact cratering affects nearly every solid-body object in the solar system. A major impact can produce relief comparable to the highest terrestrial mountains in just a few minutes. Course assesses the impact cratering process and record in different planetary environments, at different scales, and at different times. Offered alternate years. Written permission required.

GEOL 2910A Problems in Antarctic Dry Valley Geoscience

J. W. Head
The Antarctic Dry Valleys represent an extreme hyperarid polar desert environment. Their geomorphology records the range of processes operating in these environments, preserving a record of climate change of millions of years. Major microenvironments are studied at the micro-, meso-, and macro-scale through literature review, field analyses, and research projects. Exobiological themes and climate change on Mars will be assessed.

GEOL 2920K The Hydrological Cycle on Mars
J. W. Head
Evidence for the changing hydrological cycle on Mars, ranging from what appears to be an early warm and wet Mars, through history to the present very cold polar desert Antarctic-like environment will be examined. The aim of the course will be to understand the modern and ancient water cycles on Mars with the particular focus on how liquid water has shaped the surface we see on Mars. Individual topics that will be discussed include observations of the Mars fluvial record, erosion/sedimentation, weathering, sediment production, and sediment transport. We will also discuss connections with the cratering record and landform evolution. The ultimate goal is to tie these observations of the hydrological cycle with models for how the climate has changed over time.