ASTR/GEOL 5800 Planetary Surfaces & Interiors

Instructor: Prof. Mojzsis (GEOL)

NEWS: The Mini-Symposium program is now available!

Course Oultine & Syllabus

Problems 1, due September 5, 2013
Problems 2, due September 19, 2013
Problems 3, due September 26, 2013
Take-home Midterm Exam, due 5pm October 17, 2013
Information on Research Project Proposal Report that is due 5pm December 10, 2013
Research Opportunities in Space Science NASA 2013 (PGG, NESSF information)
Problems 4, due November 7, 2013
Problems 5, due December 3, 2013
Information on the Project Presentations that will take place Dec. 10 and 12, 2013

Lecture Notes:

Week 1 - introduction and overview of solar system structure, nuclear chemistry, universality of solar systems?
Week 2 - impacts, SFDs, solar system bombardment history 1
Week 3 - cratering part 2, crustal processes of solid bodies
Week 4 - heating and cooling planetary interiors
Week 5 - planetary volcanism
Week 7 - volcanoes on Mars, internal features expressed at the surface
Week 7 part 2 - introduction to the Moon
Week 8 part 1 - the Moon, formation, magma ocean(s), cooling
Week 8 part 2 - Fluid-induced weathering, denudation and erosion
Week 9 - Minor planetary bodies (asteroids, comets)
Week 10a - Mercury
Week 10b - Venus
Week 11 - Mars parts 1&2
Week 13 - Outer planets satellites
Week 14 - Galilean moons
Week 15 Part 1 - Ganymede, Titan and martian moons
Week 15 Part 2 - Extrasolar planets and origin of life (A potpourri of worlds and life?)
Week 16 - Announcing: The 1st Planetary Surfaces and Interiors Mini-symposium (Dec. 10 and 12, 2013)

Required Readings:

week 1:
Dauphas, N. and Pourmand, A. (2011) Hf-W-Th evidence for rapid growth of Mars and its status as a planetary embryo. Nature 473: 489-493.

week 2:
Gomes, R., Levison, H.F., Tsiganis, K. and Morbidelli, A. (2005) Origin of the cataclysmic Late Heavy Bombardment period of the terrestrial planets. Nature 435: 466-469.
Morbidelli, A., Marchi, S., Bottke, W.F. and Kring, D.A. (2012) A sawtooth-like timeline for the first billion years of lunar bombardment. EPSL 355-356: 144-151.
Bottke, W.F. et al. (2012) An Archaean heavy bombardment from a destabilized extension of the asteroid belt. Nature 485: 78-81.
week 3:
Robbins, S.J., Hynek, B.M., Lillis, R.J. and Bottke, W.F. (2013) Large impact crater histories of Mars: THe effect of different model crater age techniques. Icarus 225: 173-184.
McKinnon, W.B., Zahnle, K.J., Ivanov, B.A. and Melosh, H.J. (1997) Cratering on Venus: Models and observations. in Venus II. Boughter et al. (eds). University of Arizon Press, Tucson. pp. 969-1004.

week 7:
Michalski, J.R. and Bleacher, J.E. (2013) Supervolcanoes within an ancient volcanic province in Arabia Terra, Mars. Nature 502: 47-52.

week 8:
Andrews-Hanna, J.C., Zuber, M.T. and Banerdt, W.B. (2008) The Borealis basin and the origin of the martian crustal dichotomy. Nature 453: 1212-1215.
LeGall, A. et al. (2011) Cassini SAR, radiometry, scatterometry and altimetry observations of Titan's dune fields. Icarus 213: 608-624.

week 9:
Hauber, E. et al. (2013) Asynchronous formation of Hesperian and Amazonian-ages deltas on Mars and implications for climate change. JGR Planets 118, 1529-1544.
Klima, R., Cahill, J., Hagerty, J. and Lawrence, D. (2013) Remote detection of magmatic water in Bullialdus Crater on the Moon. Nature Geoscience 6: 737-741.
Scanlon, K.E. et al. (2013) Orographic precipitation in valley network headwaters: Constraints on the ancient martian atmosphere. GRL 40: 4182-4187.
Marty, B. (2012) The origins and concentrations of water, carbon, nitrogen and noble gases on Earth. EPSL 313-314: 56-66.

week 12:
Agnor, C.B. and Hamilton, D.P. (2006) Neptune's capture of its moon Triton in a binary-planet gravitational encounter. Nature 441, 192-194.

week 13:
Zahnle, K., Schenk, P., Levison, H. and Dones, L. (2003) Cratering rates in the outer solar system. Icarus 163, 263-289.
Barr, A.C., Citron, R.I. and Canup, R.M. (2010) Origin of a partially differentiated Titan. Icarus 209, 858-862.

Interesting Links To Check Out:

  • Center for Lunar Origin and Evolution in Boulder
  • NASA Lunar Science Institute
  • NASA Exploration Home

    If you encounter any problems or have suggestions, please send me an mail to

    S.J. Mojzsis | Early Earth & Planetary Systems Geology Group | Geological Sciences | CU Planetary Sciences Program

    Created September, 2013 by Stephen J. Mojzsis