About this Course
4.9
284 ratings
100 reviews
Learn about the science behind the current exploration of the solar system in this free class. Use principles from physics, chemistry, biology, and geology to understand the latest from Mars, comprehend the outer solar system, ponder planets outside our solar system, and search for habitability in our neighborhood and beyond. This course is generally taught at an advanced level assuming a prior knowledge of undergraduate math and physics, but the majority of the concepts and lectures can be understood without these prerequisites. The quizzes and final exam are designed to make you think critically about the material you have learned rather than to simply make you memorize facts. The class is expected to be challenging but rewarding....
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100% online courses

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Calendar

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.
Clock

Suggested: 6 hours/week

Approx. 44 hours to complete
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English

Skills you will gain

Solar SystemsChemistryGeologyAstrobiology
Globe

100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Calendar

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.
Clock

Suggested: 6 hours/week

Approx. 44 hours to complete
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

1

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Unit 1: Water on Mars (week 1)

...
Reading
11 videos (Total 133 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
Video11 videos
Lecture 1.01: Early views of Mars11m
Lecture 1.02: Mars has canals!13m
Lecture 1.03: Taking the temperature of Mars19m
Lecture 1.04: Mars DOES have water (in the atmosphere)! 10m
Lecture 1.05: Heating and composition of the polar caps18m
Lecture 1.06: Let's fly to Mars 9m
Lecture 1.07: The first missions to Mars 7m
Lecture 1.08: Water on earth 9m
Lecture 1.09: Mariner 9 -- Mars had FLOWING water!17m
Lecture 1.10: Viking and the start of modern Martian science6m
Reading1 reading
Note on the next lecture10m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Quiz 112m

2

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Unit 1: Water on Mars (week 2)

...
Reading
10 videos (Total 142 min), 1 quiz
Video10 videos
Lecture 1.12: Outflow channels15m
Lecture 1.13:Valley Networks9m
Lecture 1.14: Climate cycles on Mars 16m
Lecture 1.15: Was early Mars warmer and wetter? 18m
Lecture 1.16: Atmospheric escape14m
Lecture 1.17 Martian topography15m
Lecture 1.18: Gamma ray spectroscopy and subsurface water14m
Lecture 1.19: Glaciers on Mars!10m
Lecture 1.20 Origin of low latitude ice 11m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Quiz 220m

3

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Unit 1: Water on Mars (week 3)

...
Reading
10 videos (Total 141 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
Video10 videos
Lecture 1.22: Thermal spectroscopy and mineral identification14m
Lecture 1.23: Geology from the Opportunity rover 15m
Lecture 1.24: Geochemistry from the Opportunity rover 10m
Lecture 1.25: Introduction to guest lecturers 7m
Lecture 1.26: Mineralogy on Mars, Part 1 10m
Lecture 1.27: Mineralogy on Mars, Part 2 17m
Lecture 1.28: Results from the Curiosity Rover, Part 1 12m
lecture 1.29: Results from the Curiosity Rover, Part 2 18m
Lecture 1.30: Where was the water on Mars?16m
Reading1 reading
Note on the next lectures10m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Quiz 328m

4

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Unit 2: The insides of giant planets (week 1)

...
Reading
11 videos (Total 114 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
Video11 videos
Lecture 2.02: Measuring density 14m
Lecture 2.03: Using density 7m
Lecture 2.04: Hydrostatic equilibrium 14m
Lecture 2.05: Hydrogen equation of state 12m
Lecture 2.06: Heat transport14m
Lecture 2.07: Theoretical internal structure 9m
Lecture 2.08: A core from gravity?6m
Lecture 2.09: Magnetic fields11m
Lecture 2.10: The upper atmosphere and the Galileo probe 7m
Lecture 2.11: Picture models 7m
Reading1 reading
Note on the next section10m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Quiz 416m
4.9
Briefcase

83%

got a tangible career benefit from this course

Top Reviews

By GNNov 29th 2017

Challenging. Amazing. Mind-Blowing.\n\nSpace enthusiasts should totally do this course. And yeah, did I say that Mike Brown is the coolest teacher ever. Never a dull moment in the lectures. :)

By JADec 7th 2017

Excellent Course! Very informative and gives a brief overview of the history of the Solar System and some of the questions driving new and current missions. Thank you.

Instructor

Mike Brown

Professor
Planetary Astronomy

About Caltech

Caltech is a world-renowned science and engineering research and education institution, where extraordinary faculty and students seek answers to complex questions, discover new knowledge, lead innovation, and transform our future. Caltech's mission is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society....

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Once you enroll for a Certificate, you’ll have access to all videos, quizzes, and programming assignments (if applicable). Peer review assignments can only be submitted and reviewed once your session has begun. If you choose to explore the course without purchasing, you may not be able to access certain assignments.

  • When you purchase a Certificate you get access to all course materials, including graded assignments. Upon completing the course, your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page - from there, you can print your Certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile. If you only want to read and view the course content, you can audit the course for free.

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