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Paul Meyer

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Though I have no hard planetary sciences background, I've previously taken an Astrobiology Course from University of Edinburgh, so there was some overlap about the search for life on other planets and the science involved in making such determinations about what to look for, by breaking down the history of life on earth and comparing that to similar processes on other planets. This course goes into much greater depth on the subject and on how science takes apart the elements of the solar system, to explain how they were formed from the time of large body formation. Historical and very recent scientific evidence is compared and contrasted to tell a story of the solar system that forms the probable and improbable explanations for how the planets, and small body objects came into being, demonstrating the great variety of physical characteristics and makeup that they have. I really liked the instructor, his enthusiasm for the subject matter, his simplified explanation of complex processes, and his realistic skepticism about conclusions drawn from scientific observations in the solar system. The guest lecturers and TA presentations were also great. I really liked the detailed images and website resources shared for self exploration of Mars and its fascinating geological features that tell us so much about the history of Mars. I thought the in depth focus was a bit much at some level when having to perform complex physics calculations, but the conclusions that were drawn from those calculations made up for it in providing big picture explanation of the complex processes involved in planet formation and determining how the puzzle of the solar system fits together. The Homework was not frequent enough, being only every couple of weeks, so would have liked it to be weekly to better understand more of the material presented. I wish the homework was not quite so difficult also, and that you had a little more time to complete, but did recognized that it was a lot more about really understanding the concepts than about just memorization of facts. I haven't taken the Final yet but imagine that it is going to be quite challenging if the homework quizzes are any indication. I really do recommend the class to anyone interested in the real observational science that goes on in the continual discoveries being made within our own solar system, as well exo-planets beyond.