Faculty Committee: Karen Fryer (Geology & Geography), Bart Martin (Geology & Geography), Barbara Andereck (Physics & Astronomy), Robert Harmon (Physics & Astronomy).
Planetary Science is the study of the nature, formation and evolution of planets and other non-stellar celestial bodies, including dwarf planets, satellites, asteroids and comets. The Apollo lunar landings and robotic planetary missions have revolutionized the field by enabling comparative planetology, in which researchers compare and contrast the geological, physical, and chemical processes observed on Earth with those observed on the other terrestrial planets and moons. Thus, the Planetary Science Major is rooted in courses that cover central geoscience processes and techniques, and encompasses a broad scientific approach including astronomy, physics and chemistry. The student undertakes focused, in-depth study of planets and other small celestial bodies through independent research. This major is designed to meet graduate school entrance requirements, as an advanced degree is necessary for jobs in this field. If you wish to be prepared for a larger job market, including positions available at the bachelor’s level, a major in a traditional science field such as chemistry, geology, or physics would likely server you better.