Space Astronomy and Solar System Science - PH709

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
Canterbury
(version 2)
Autumn
View Timetable
7 15 (7.5) DR SC Lowry

Pre-requisites

None.

Restrictions

None

2017-18

Overview

SYLLABUS:

Space Astronomy
Why use space telescopes; other platforms for non-ground-based astronomical observatories (sounding rockets, balloons, satellites); mission case study; what wavelengths benefit by being in space; measurements astronomers make in space using uv, x-ray and infra-red, and examples of some recent scientific missions.

Exploration of the Solar System
Mission types from flybys to sample returns: scientific aims and instrumentation: design requirements for a spacecraft-exploration mission; how to study planetary atmospheres and surfaces: properties of and how to explore minor bodies (e.g. asteroids and comets): current and future missions: mission case study; how space agencies liaise with the scientific community; how to perform calculations related to the orbital transfer of spacecraft.

Solar System Formation and Evolution
The composition of the Sun and planets will be placed in the context of the current understanding of the evolution of the Solar System. Topics include: Solar system formation and evolution; structure of the solar system; physical and orbital evolution of asteroids.

Extra Solar Planets
The evidence for extra Solar planets will be presented and reviewed. The implications for the development and evolution of Solar Systems will be discussed.

Life in Space
Introduction to the issue of what life is, where it may exist in the Solar System and how to look for it.

Details

This module appears in:


Contact hours

30 contact hours, including: 26 hours of lectures, 2 hours of workshops, and class tests.

In addition, 120 hours of self-study are required.

Availability

This is not available as a wild module.

Method of assessment

Final Examination (70%);
2 class tests (15% each).

Preliminary reading

Wertz and Larson, Space Mission Analysis and Design, 3rd Edition

  • Jones, Discovering the Solar System, 2nd Edition

  • Taylor, Solar System Evolution, 2nd Edition

    Other reading:
  • Davies; Astronomy from Space: The Design and Operation of Orbiting Observatories, Wiley

  • Encrenaz, Bibring and Blanc; The Solar System, Springer

  • Jakosky: The Search for Life on Other Planets

  • Gilmour & Sephton: Introduction to Astrobiology

  • Carroll and Ostlie, Modern Astrophysics (2nd ed)

    See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

    See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

  • Learning outcomes

    An ability to identify relevant principles and laws when dealing with problems in Space Astronomy and Solar System Science, and to make approximations necessary to obtain solutions.

  • An ability to solve problems in astronomy, astrophysics and space science using appropriate mathematical tools.
  • An ability to use mathematical techniques and analysis to model physical behaviour in Space Astronomy and Solar System Science.
  • An ability to comment critically on how spacecraft and space telescopes (operating at various wavelengths) are designed, their principles of operation, and their use in solar system exploration and astronomy & astrophysics research.
  • An ability to solve advanced problems in astronomy, astrophysics and space science using appropriate mathematical tools.
  • An ability to interpret mathematical descriptions of physical phenomena in Space Astronomy and Solar System Science.
  • An ability to work within the space sciences area that is well matched to the frontiers of knowledge, the science drivers that underpin government funded research and the commercial activity that provides hardware or software solutions to challenging scientific problems in these fields.
  • An ability to present and interpret information graphically.
  • An ability to make use of appropriate texts, research-based materials, other primary sources or other learning resources as part of managing their own learning.
  • An ability to discuss coherently the origin and evolution of Solar Systems and be able to evaluate claims for evidence of Solar Systems other than our own.
  • Ability to identify relevant principles, make relevant approximations and solve problems using a mathematical approach.
  • Students should become fluent in current trends and methods as regards to space astronomy and Solar System exploration.
  • Problem-solving skills, in the context of both problems with well-defined solutions and open-ended problems; an ability to formulate problems in precise terms and to identify key issues, and the confidence to try different approaches in order to make progress on challenging problems. Numeracy is subsumed within this area.
  • Investigative skills in the context of independent investigation including the use of textbooks and other available literature and databases, to extract important information.
  • Communication skills in the area of dealing with surprising ideas and difficult concepts, including listening carefully, reading demanding texts.
  • Analytical skills – associated with the need to pay attention to detail and to develop an ability to manipulate precise and intricate ideas, to construct logical arguments and to use technical language correctly.

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