Institute for Planets and Life

Space Telescope Science Institute and Johns Hopkins University

Astrobiology and Related Courses at Johns Hopkins University

171.333/020.334/270.335/020.616 Planets, Life, and the Universe

A multidisciplinary course exploring the origins of life, planetary formation, Earth's evolution, extrasolar planets, habitable zones, life in extreme environments, the search for life in the Universe, and space missions. DiRuggiero, Norman, and others, 3 credit hours, offered Fall 2011.

020.327 (N) Molecular Biology of Extremophiles

A course exploring microbial diversity and molecular adaptation of microorganisms inhabiting extreme environments. DiRuggiero, 3 credit hours.

The JHU Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences also offers courses that may be of interest to students interested in astrobiology:

270.340 Nature of the Solid Planets

The overall origin and evolution of the terrestrial-like planets in the Solar System is discussed and analyzed. As a starting point the detailed structure and dynamics of Earth is presented from the perspectives of seismology, gravity, geomagnetism, and volcanism. Extensions are also made to the origin, structure, and present state of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn and other icy bodies. Prerequisites: A firm working knowledge of calculus, through differential equations, physics, and chemistry is required as well as some grounding in Earth and/or Planetary Sciences. 3 credits—3 lecture hours per week. Presented by Bruce Marsh.

270.311 Geobiology

A survey of the interactions between geological and biological processes at and near the Earth’s surface, covering topics such as biogeochemistry and nutrient cycles, soil chemistry, biomarkers, archives of paleobiology, and the evolution of life, with an emphasis on terrestrial systems. Open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students. Levin, 3 credit hours.

270.623 Planetary Atmospheres

Fundamental concepts and basic principles of chemistry and physics applied to the study of planetary atmospheres. Vertical structure of planetary atmospheres. Atmospheric radiation, thermodynamics and transport. Principles of photochemistry. Planetary spectroscopy and remote sensing. Upper atmospheres and ionospheres. Evolution and stability of planetary atmospheres. Prerequisite: Undergraduate major in physics or physical chemistry or equivalent. Strobel, 3 credit hours.

270.425 Earth and Planetary Fluids

Prereq: Basic Physics, Calculus, and familiarity with ordinary differential equations An introductory course on the properties, flow, and transport characteristics of fluids throughout the Earth and planets. Topics covered include: constitutive relationships, fluid rheology, hydrostatics, dimensional analysis, low Reynolds number flow, porous media, waves, stratified and rotating fluids, plus heat, mass, and tracer transport. Illustrative examples and problems are drawn from the atmosphere, ocean, crust, mantle, and core of the Earth and other planets. Open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students. Waugh/Olson, 3 credit hours.

270.313 Isotope Geochemistry

Principles of equilibrium and kinetic isotope fractionation in fluid, solid and heterogeneous systems. Stable isotopes in the hydrosphere and oceans. Carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur isotopes in low temperature environments. Isotopes as tools for reconstructing past climates and ecological settings. Stable isotopes in igneous and metamorphic systems. Introduction to radiogenic isotopes, geochronology, thermochronology. Cosmogenic isotopes. Clumped isotope geochemistry. Passey, 3 credit hours.

270.114 (N) A Guided Tour of the Planets

An introduction to planetary science and planetary exploration primarily for nonscience majors. A survey of concepts from astronomy, chemistry, geology, and physics applied to the study of the solar system. No prerequisites. Marsh, Strobel 3 credits.

Suggested Reading