Winter 2009 Class Notes


All files are in Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt) or Word (.doc) format unless otherwise indicated

Email Prof. Nimmo (fnimmo@es.ucsc.edu) if you have problems accessing them


·        Course Syllabus                                            


Timing/Location: Mon/Wed/Fri from 11:00 to 12:10 in E&MS D226


Course Goals: To provide an introduction to the observational and quantitative techniques used to infer the origins and characteristics of solar system bodies, from gas giants to dust grains.


Course Outline: see below


Text:  Hartmann, Moons and Planets, (5th edition). This is useful but not essential; all examinable material will be covered in the lectures.


          Grading scheme (approximate):

40% Weekly homeworks (due each Friday)

20% Midterm

40% Final


          Late homeworks will have their scores reduced by 10% per day.




          One of: Math 11B or 19B; and

          One of: Phys 6A or Phys 5A.


          WARNING:  I am going to assume a good working knowledge of single-variable calculus and freshman physics. You will need to be able to set up and solve “word problems”. Don’t be under any illusions – this is a quantitative course.


Collaboration on homework assignments is permitted and encouraged. But the work that you hand in must be your own i.e. if I ask you to reproduce your work on the board without your notes, you must be able to do so. If you are ever unsure about the appropriate level of collaboration, please ask.


If you use the textbook or other outside sources (such as web sites) then you must cite the source that you use.


Fellowship/Research Opportunities


Summer undergraduate research in Astrobiology, SETI, Mountain View CA (deadline 2nd Feb)

Summer undergraduate research in Planetary Science, LPI, Houston TX (deadline 23rd Jan)

Summer undergraduate research in Space & Planetary Sciences, Univ. Arkansas, Fayetteville (28th Feb)

NASA Planetary Geology & Geophysics undergraduate research program (deadline 23rd Feb)

JPL Mars Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships

A useful list and another list of planetary-science related undergraduate research positions

UC LEADS Fellowships (equips undergraduates with skills to enter PhD programs) (21st Feb)

Southern California Earthquake Centre (SCEC) internships



          Course Outline


Week 1 (Jan 7): Introduction, highlights, solar system formation Problem Set #1 (due Friday)


Week 2 (Jan 14): Terrestrial planet surfaces 1 – composition & impact craters Problem Set #2 (PDF version) (due Friday)

                                                                                                                                       Problem Set #2 answers (PDF)


Week 3 (Jan 21): Terrestrial planet surfaces 2 – volcanism, erosion & tectonics Problem Set #3 (PDF version) answers (PDF)


Week 4 (Jan 28): Terrestrial planet interiors  Problem Set #4 (PDF version) answers


Week 5 (Feb 4): Planetary atmospheres; midterm (Monday 9th Feb)  Problem Set#5 (PDF version) answers


          Formula sheet for midterm. MidtermAnswers.


Week 6 (Feb 11): Giant planets & extra-solar planets (Feb 16 is a holiday) Problem Set#6 (PDF version) answers


Week 7 (Feb 18): Orbital dynamics  Problem Set#7 (PDF version) answers


Week 8 (Feb 25): Moons/Satellites Problem Set#8 (PDF version) answers


Week 9 (March 4): Moons/Satellites cont’d. / Comets and the Kuiper Belt


Week 10 (March 11): Recap.


                   Formula sheet for final. Example final questions.



                             Final exam is Weds March 18th 8:00-11:00 a.m. in D226