Chevron Left
Back to The Science of the Solar System

Learner Reviews & Feedback for The Science of the Solar System by Caltech

775 ratings

About the Course

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....

Top reviews


Mar 3, 2020

Learning facilitated by good lecturing, well prepared lectures and excellent quizzes.

Lecturer Mike Brown, enthusiastic about his subject, generous in sharing his knowledge, humorous, and honest.


May 24, 2019

The lectures are engaging and replete with thought provoking material. Professor Brown's in depth knowledge of the field and his passion for planetary science aroused an everlasting curiosity.

Filter by:

1 - 25 of 283 Reviews for The Science of the Solar System

By Darryl S

Nov 18, 2019

This is the course I wish I had back when I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. Most interesting course ever, and Mike is very passionate about the subject. Highly recommended!

By Carlo

Jun 19, 2017

Could you add a sixth star, just for this course please? To this day I have attended something like 15 courses on Coursera and this is the best one hands down. Not only is Mike Brown one of the top planetary scientists in the whole world (and in this course, you'll follow some of his research as he is doing it – AWESOME!) but he is also a terrific teacher. If you take this course you won't only learn a bunch of facts about the solar system, you will learn how to think like a planetary scientist (ok, you'll start at least). The course is very well structured, very comprehensive, a massive amount of data is presented in a very digestible way, you're exposed to most of the theories which are out there, there is little maths (unfortunately, some will think, but don't worry there is plenty of scientific reasoning) and it is introduced in a piecemeal way and very nicely explained. Mike Brown is enthusiastic, passionate, but not so much that he cannot relate to someone who doesn’t share his passion with him (as was my case when I began following this course). He is nice and relaxed but don't act as if he was your pale. There are guest lecturers and the quality of their teaching is on average significantly lower than Brown's but don't worry, even when he is not there, he is still there: he has annotated their slides when their presentations were unclear. Plus, it's nice to have a glimpse at what experts say on the topics on which Brown is not an expert. Is there room any for improvement? Maybe there could have been more recaps of the evidence in the sessions on water of Mars but I'm quibbling here. If you like science, you'll like this course. If you don't, you will (well, at least it's very likely you will.) Beware though, this course will make you sad. You will be sad not to be able to fly to Los Angeles and enroll at Caltech to study planetary science under Brown's supervision (no, this is NOT a joke).

By Gwenolé B

Jan 19, 2018

Awesome course. Quite challenging for someone with no (formal) science background, but fascinating and well worth it!

By Jakob G

Mar 2, 2019

The best course I've ever taken, and the course I've needed since I was a teenager.

Mike Brown is not reading from his script, even if he has one. He's showing, drawing, writing and explaining in a way that totally removes the otherwise numb feeling of one-way communication of an illustrated audio text that so many other online courses suffer from.

I need more of this, when is the sequel released?!?

By Gourav N

Nov 29, 2017

Challenging. Amazing. Mind-Blowing.

Space 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 Hely B

Feb 26, 2018

This online course is incredible. Mike Brown, and the rest of the team responsible for preparing it, achieved a remarkable course about the Solar System, covering many of the main aspects of the science related to it.

This course provides both general and in depth information regarding the Solar System. It focus on the astronomy, astrobiology and astrogeology aspects of Solar System exploration, and delves into the planets, small bodies (e.g. asteroids) and other fascinating features of our cosmic neighbourhood.

The lectures alone provide good depth for all the subjects explored, with good explanations of the core concepts used (e.g. density calculations, spectroscopy analysis etc.). Not only that, but for those more versed in planetary sciences and the more curious ones, a great set of recommended readings are also provided, easily supplying the students with hours of fascinating papers and articles to further detail the ideas presented.

By the end of the course, the student is armed with a good general understanding of the properties of the Solar System, it's history and current scientific research aims and questions. As a geologist, I finished the course with new insights of how research in my area of expertise may be useful in answering some of the big questions being tackled, and how important it is important in the exploration and understanding of the Solar System (as well as various other fields of science) .

I recommend the experience for anyone interested in knowing more about the Solar System, or those interested in Planetary Sciences in general. For the geologists and geology students, it provides a welcome fresh view of how versatile the geosciences can be, and how they can be used outside the traditional fields more commonly known. It demands some time (at least 2-3 hours a week if you follow the dates), but definitely worth the investment.

By Paras K

May 25, 2019

The lectures are engaging and replete with thought provoking material. Professor Brown's in depth knowledge of the field and his passion for planetary science aroused an everlasting curiosity.

By Jonathan F C

Jun 7, 2017

Good but not extraordinary. Mike Brown's lectures were good to excellent, but some of the guest lectures were hard to follow. A summary of critical concepts after each lecture would have been useful. Quizzes often emphasized material that was skimmed over or not clarified in lectures. The math was not hard, but solving problems with unknown or undeveloped equations was difficult. Lab exercises would have been a useful addition—I don't think one learns much from listening to lectures only. And a reading list of linked relevant papers would have been a nice addition. Looking for the false statement in the quizzes may have been pedagogically useful, but often resulted in "trick" questions. All in all, I learned a lot, although because the recent 2017 cosmological advances were not incorporated in the course, I don't feel "at the cutting edge".

By Dan M

Dec 2, 2020

I found this course to be of substantial value. Though it's old enough now its age is showing, the great bulk of the material presented is still current and provides a solid basis for understanding the solar system science. A few references to "upcoming missions" or studies which have now, in 2020, already occurred or begun is forgivable. As more time passes though, these will become questionable to still be included. I learned a ton in this course. One of the main ways I did so is in the quiz/feedback/retry cycle. As I'm not taking this course for credit but instead, for the knowledge itself, it would do little good for me to miss a question, be told I missed it and have it dropped there. Getting feedback on the response I chose and an opportunity to review the material and try again to demonstrate, to myself and the grade-bot, I have learned the material allowed me to leave the completed course feeling like I learned more than I would have otherwise. If there were one piece of constructive comment I can make it is I was surprised by the number of typographical errors and/or omissions in the pop-ups and the quizzes. I saw quite a few instances of mistakes there even rudimentary proofreading should have corrected. This far into the life of this course, it may be of diminishing value to have someone spend time making these corrections but, I do see it as reflecting on Caltech's quality just a tiny bit. Overall, a great course and a great experience.

By Kristy H

Jun 6, 2017

Dr. Brown is an amazing teacher who is able to explain complex concepts clearly. He uses data from past and current primary scientific research on relevant discoveries. Quizzes are not just based on recall, but ask you to apply the concepts. I've taken this course multiple times (it is updated occasionally) because it's just that good!

By Diego F

Mar 3, 2019

Great course, it has a huge content about our solar system, starting with a lot of discussion about mars/water. It is hard because the nature of the topics, but Mike Brown explains really well the content.

By Carolyn E

Mar 4, 2020

Learning facilitated by good lecturing, well prepared lectures and excellent quizzes.

Lecturer Mike Brown, enthusiastic about his subject, generous in sharing his knowledge, humorous, and honest.

By Andrew W J

Jun 13, 2017

And excellent, deep yet accessible introduction into what we know about the solar system, the science behind our knowledge, and the big questions under investigation.

By Alex R

Aug 23, 2018

Excellent course. Very interesting and motivating.

By Aishwarya T

Jan 2, 2017

A great course!

By Dr. M K I

Apr 26, 2020

module 3 was not favarable

By Rajan S

Oct 6, 2021

Perfect course for someone who wants a level-up than laymen, challenging (but rewarding) course! Could be a course for a teen science geek who's exhausted all popular science YouTube videos (even if you just think so): after completion, you'll realize now is the time for some 'real' college courses - and no more Introduction to "the Universe" types.

- A teen science geek

By Anthony Y

Feb 16, 2019

It was really a privilege to be taught by a world renowned expert in his field. Professor Brown teaches clearly and with enthusiasm. I would love to be one of his grad students! Everyone should take this course. It’s amazing the work his team does and what they are discovery about the universe.

Thank you, Dr Brown!

By Shimon S

Jul 31, 2018

This is by far, the best course I've ever taken! Space is the future! If you have an interest in space or know someone that does....I HIGHLY RECOMMEND taking this course. After you've successfully completed this'll feel greatly rewarded!!!

By Carol V J

Jun 4, 2017

Fantastic and wonderfully entertaining course.

Dr. Mike Brown makes each lecture exciting and interesting.

By Kirk B

Jul 5, 2018

Almost wish I could forget everything I just learned so I could take it again. Fantastic course.

By Hellas F

Feb 18, 2020

the best course ever. It's the only one that i have rated with 5 stars. Really amazing

By Eskil S

Mar 9, 2018

Great course and superb teaching!

By John S

Sep 8, 2017

Best course so far!

By Alexander W

Mar 8, 2017

Fantastic course.