Fundamental Planetary Sciences

Fundamental Planetary Sciences

Course Code:

Course Name: Fundamental Planetary Sciences

Credits: 3

Level: Undergraduate

Pre-requisite: Advanced math, Advanced physics

Lecture Time: 20 weeks, 1 session/week, 3 hours/session 60 hours

Instructors: Jun Cui, Liyong Zhou, Hejiu Hui, Jianyang Li, Jianheng Guo

Course Description

China’s deep exploration program brings an opportunity to the development of planetary sciences in the country. This course provides a systematic and thorough introduction to various concepts, phenomena, theories, and methods frequently encountered in this blooming field. The course covers a wide range of topics from the structure of the Solar System, the basic characteristics of Solar System bodies, the formation and evolution of planetary systems, extraterrestrial materials and their origins, planetary interior structures and surface processes, planetary atmospheres and space plasma environments, as well as the detection and characterization of exoplanets. This strongly multi-disciplinary course not only serves as a core one in astronomy, but also serves as a selective one in related fields such as various branches of Earth sciences provided that the students have a sufficient background knowledge in math and physics.

Topics and Schedule

  1. 1.Introduction to planetary sciences and deep space exploration (3 hours)
  2. Planetary Dynamics, Formation and Evolution of Planetary Systems (15 hours)

1.1. Observations of the Solar System bodies and their orbital characteristics (3 hours)

1.2. Orbital dynamics and exoplanetary systems (3 hours)

1.3. Planetary rings and dwarf planets (3 hours)

1.4. Trojan objects and the restricted three-body problem (3 hours)

1.5. Formation and evolution of planetary systems (3 hours)

  1. 3.Planetary surface processes and interior structures (9 hours)
  2. 1Extra-terrestrial materials and their origins (3 hours)
  3. 2Planetary surface processes (3 hours)
  4. 3Planetary interior structures (3 hours)
    1. 4.Planetary atmospheres (24 hours)
  5. 1Structures of planetary atmospheres (3 hours)
  6. 2Dynamics in planetary atmospheres (3 hours)
  7. 3Radiative processes in planetary atmospheres (3 hours)
  8. 4Chemistry in planetary atmospheres (3 hours)
  9. 5Planetary exospheres and escape processes (3 hours)
  10. 6Origin and evolution in planetary atmospheres (3 hours)
  11. 7Planetary ionospheres (3 hours)
  12. 8Planetary magnetospheres (3 hours)
    1. 5.Small Bodies in the Solar System (9 hours)
    2. 1Asteroids (3 hours)
    3. 2Comets (3 hours)
    4. 3Other small bodies (3 hours)


The grades include midterm examination, final examination and assignments of weekly homework


Jack J. Lissauer & Imke de Pater, Fundamental planetary science, Cambridge University Press, 2013


[1] Richard Fitzpatrick, An introduction to celestial mechanics, Cambridge University Press, 2012

[2] Philip J. Armitage, Astrophysics of planet formation, Cambridge University Press, 2010

[3] Jay H. Melosh, Planetary surface processes, Cambridge University Press, 2011

[4] Agustin Sanchez-Lavega, An introduction to planetary atmospheres, CRC Press, 2010

[5] Thomas E. Cravens, Physics of Solar System plasma, Cambridge University Press, 1997