University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Ast 1912.001

Exoplanets

Session: Fall 2017 (9/05-12/13)
Instructor: Charles E. Woodward (e-mail: woodw024 @ umn.edu)
Time: 1010 Th
Location: Tate Hall B55

This seminar will explore which regions in the solar system may harbor life at present or may have supported life in the past. The prime focus will be on Mars, Earth, comets, and satellite worlds of the Jovian planets. We will explore the link between science and science fiction related to our fascination with Mars as a planet for human colonization and contact with ?alien life forms.? Our discussion of astrobiology will also focus on the potential requirements of the habitability zones in the exo-planetary systems. The necessary conditions for supporting life will also be discussed. We will also discuss the historical evolution of this emerging branch of astronomy, discuss the roles of the ?citizen scientist? and review NASA missions (including Kepler) and ground-based programs conducted at the U of Minnesota designed to search for alien worlds. The necessary conditions for supporting life in the Universe will also be discussed. We will also explore the link between science and science fiction related to our fascination of cosmic impacts as seen through the eye of the media and popular culture. The material is presented in a seminar format, wherein the instructor and the students share in the pedagogical process through discussions, readings, and presentations. My role as the instructor is that of a facilitator. Your role as a participant is to utilize the text, ancillary reading materials, multi-media presentations, class discussion, and web forum exchange as seeds for further exploration and inquiry.

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