The Science of the Solar System

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10/10 stars
based on  303 reviews
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Cost FREE , Add a Verified Certificate for $49
Start Date July 3, 2017

Course Details

Cost

FREE,
Add a Verified Certificate for $49

Upcoming Schedule

  • July 3, 2017
  • Oct. 2, 2017

Course Provider

Coursera online courses
Coursera's online classes are designed to help students achieve mastery over course material. Some of the best professors in the world - like neurobiology professor and author Peggy Mason from the University of Chicago, and computer science professor and Folding@Home director Vijay Pande - will supplement your knowledge through video lectures. They will also provide challenging assessments, interactive exercises during each lesson, and the opportunity to use a mobile app to keep up with yo...
Coursera's online classes are designed to help students achieve mastery over course material. Some of the best professors in the world - like neurobiology professor and author Peggy Mason from the University of Chicago, and computer science professor and Folding@Home director Vijay Pande - will supplement your knowledge through video lectures. They will also provide challenging assessments, interactive exercises during each lesson, and the opportunity to use a mobile app to keep up with your coursework. Coursera also partners with the US State Department to create “learning hubs” around the world. Students can get internet access, take courses, and participate in weekly in-person study groups to make learning even more collaborative. Begin your journey into the mysteries of the human brain by taking courses in neuroscience. Learn how to navigate the data infrastructures that multinational corporations use when you discover the world of data analysis. Follow one of Coursera’s “Skill Tracks”. Or try any one of its more than 560 available courses to help you achieve your academic and professional goals.

Provider Subject Specialization
Humanities
Sciences & Technology
4367 reviews

Course Description

Learn about the science behind the current exploration of the solar system in this free class. Use principles from physics, chemistry, biology, and geology to understand the latest from Mars, comprehend the outer solar system, ponder planets outside our solar system, and search for habitability in our neighborhood and beyond. This course is generally taught at an advanced level assuming a prior knowledge of undergraduate math and physics, but the majority of the concepts and lectures can be understood without these prerequisites. The quizzes and final exam are designed to make you think critically about the material you have learned rather than to simply make you memorize facts. The class is expected to be challenging but rewarding.
The Science of the Solar System course image
Reviews 10/10 stars
303 Reviews for The Science of the Solar System

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Rankings are based on a provider's overall CourseTalk score, which takes into account both average rating and number of ratings. Stars round to the nearest half.

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BB

10/10 starsCompleted
3 days, 9 hours ago
Could you add a sixth star, just for this course please? To this day I have attended something like 15 courses on Coursera and this is the best one hands down. Not only is Mike Brown one of the top planetary scientists in the whole world (and in this course, you'll follow some of his research as he is doing it – AWESOME!) but he is also a terrific teacher. If you take this course you won't only learn a bunch of facts about the solar system, you will learn how to think like a planetary scientist (ok, you'll start at least). The course is very well structured, very comprehensive, a massive amount of data is presented in a very digestible way, you're exposed to most of the theories which are out there, there is little maths (unfortunately, some will think, but don't worry there is plenty of scientific reasoning) and it is introduced in a piecemeal way and very nicely explained. Mike Brown is enthusiastic, passionate, but not so much tha... Could you add a sixth star, just for this course please? To this day I have attended something like 15 courses on Coursera and this is the best one hands down. Not only is Mike Brown one of the top planetary scientists in the whole world (and in this course, you'll follow some of his research as he is doing it – AWESOME!) but he is also a terrific teacher. If you take this course you won't only learn a bunch of facts about the solar system, you will learn how to think like a planetary scientist (ok, you'll start at least). The course is very well structured, very comprehensive, a massive amount of data is presented in a very digestible way, you're exposed to most of the theories which are out there, there is little maths (unfortunately, some will think, but don't worry there is plenty of scientific reasoning) and it is introduced in a piecemeal way and very nicely explained. Mike Brown is enthusiastic, passionate, but not so much that he cannot relate to someone who doesn’t share his passion with him (as was my case when I began following this course). He is nice and relaxed but don't act as if he was your pale. There are guest lecturers and the quality of their teaching is on average significantly lower than Brown's but don't worry, even when he is not there, he is still there: he has annotated their slides when their presentations were unclear. Plus, it's nice to have a glimpse at what experts say on the topics on which Brown is not an expert. Is there room any for improvement? Maybe there could have been more recaps of the evidence in the sessions on water of Mars but I'm quibbling here. If you like science, you'll like this course. If you don't, you will (well, at least it's very likely you will.) Beware though, this course will make you sad. You will be sad not to be able to fly to Los Angeles and enroll at Caltech to study planetary science under Brown's supervision (no, this is NOT a joke).
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Jean Swank

10/10 starsCompleted
2 weeks ago
The course content is great – a combination of the history of the subjects, explanation, and current work and thinking. The instructor is expert and a good communicator, serious, earnest, enthusiastic, with a sense of humor. The provider makes the lectures, quizzes and discussions conveniently available. Not that I thought it was perfect. There were a few points that I found unsatisfactorily confusing. The important lead-lead dating was the most so, despite looking up some references. I see why it is confusing, but it would be worth trying to smooth that. Sometimes the quiz questions seemed a little tricky – playing on exactly what was meant. In reviewing material I would like to be about to see the text and the figures at the same time and scroll through. The time markings made it possible to go back and forth and I am not sure how it could be technically accomplished, but it would make it easier to review material when trying t... The course content is great – a combination of the history of the subjects, explanation, and current work and thinking. The instructor is expert and a good communicator, serious, earnest, enthusiastic, with a sense of humor. The provider makes the lectures, quizzes and discussions conveniently available. Not that I thought it was perfect. There were a few points that I found unsatisfactorily confusing. The important lead-lead dating was the most so, despite looking up some references. I see why it is confusing, but it would be worth trying to smooth that. Sometimes the quiz questions seemed a little tricky – playing on exactly what was meant. In reviewing material I would like to be about to see the text and the figures at the same time and scroll through. The time markings made it possible to go back and forth and I am not sure how it could be technically accomplished, but it would make it easier to review material when trying to clarify particular points. I learned a lot and it was fun.
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student

10/10 starsTaking Now
2 weeks, 1 day ago
This is the first time I have ever taken an online course, so I don't have any real comparisons. I did very much enjoy listening to Mike Brown (and sometimes having to read along), and thought he was an excellent teacher. I did find much of the content quite challenging, and occasionally the math going by too fast which required me to listen to topics more than once and/or pause the video. I found the questions embedded into the videos very helpful, and would have liked even more of those. But I definitely learned a LOT about the solar system, and have a much greater appreciation of what is going on in our solar system and beyond. It was definitely worth it if you have the time and can put in the effort. Definitely would recommend it to others.
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Jeff Richardson profile image
Jeff Richardson profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
2 weeks ago
Course puts a totally new, for me, perspective on the solar system. It covers formation, evolution, evaluation of how NASA missions learn so much more about the planets and bodies in the solar system (and outside the solar system). Excellent teacher, useful blogs for feedback, challenging quizzes, some questions are dubious, but all in all, very worthwhile.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
2 weeks, 4 days ago
Mike Brown is an excellent teacher. His course taught me and challenged me (I have no math or science background) and I really enjoyed it. I am sad that it is over. I recommend it very highly. I had absolutely no interest in the solar system before taking it (my son at Caltech encouraged me to take it and I am very grateful to him for that) and now I am extremely interested and feel that I have a good basis to explore more. thanks to Caltech and Mike Brown!
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Tyler Housel profile image
Tyler Housel profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
2 weeks, 4 days ago
I have taken several online courses from different outlets, and this was the most enjoyable. The subject matter was fascinating, the instructor was engaging and the platform was flawless.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
2 weeks, 5 days ago
Thank you CALTECH and Mike Brown. I concur with all the 5 star reviewers. This has been a very productive experience. The Juno results are coming in and reflect the brilliance of Dr. Brown's assessments. Looking forward to his involvement in developing the upcoming LUCY mission to Jupiter's asteroids. Please do more of these lectures that engage and inform such a large audience.
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Rex Ridenoure profile image
Rex Ridenoure profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
2 weeks, 5 days ago
To appreciate how we know what we know about our solar system, life (and possible life) in it, and how this applies to the other solar systems out there, this is the course for you!
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10/10 starsCompleted
2 weeks, 5 days ago
The course was wide-ranging, and the amount of theory and math was perfect for an old science nerd and teacher who went in a different direction. I had to listen to keep up, and occasionally listen again, but always with understanding in the end. Felt like a "hands-on" course, even without any "hands-on" work. I can't imagine a better course.
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Tom Heinz profile image
Tom Heinz profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
2 weeks, 6 days ago
Great course. Mike Brown is up to date and an easy person to listen to. There are lots of links and a transcription for people like me who have a hard time hearing. I liked best the explanations of how things have been discovered or analyzed but it is not too technical for anyone to take. It is fun to know a lot more about our solar system and what's coming up.
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Robert Spencer profile image
Robert Spencer profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
2 weeks, 6 days ago
The content was detailed but accessible for a student with an interest and willingness to delve back into simple science concepts. Mike Brown does an excellent job sharing his enthusiasm for the material. I truly enjoyed the material, the challenge and the process. It makes me want to find other courses to expand my horizons.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
3 weeks, 1 day ago
Definitely my favourite course that I have taken so far in the MOOC context. Mike Brown, the instructor, is engaging, funny, and honest about the subject matter. I do not have a science background in school but have always been interested, and this was at a level that was interesting and challenging but not beyond my reach. Highly recommended.
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Jim Hunt profile image
Jim Hunt profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
3 weeks, 3 days ago
This is a fantastic course for those interested in the formation of the solar system, detailed study of the different planets and other objects of the solar system, and prospects for finding life in the solar system and beyond. The instructor, Mike Brown, is an accomplished planetary scientist and a talented and entertaining lecturer. Some basic background in physics and chemistry is helpful, but Mike keeps the material accessible even to those with non-scientific backgrounds. Highly recommended.
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Mike Greig profile image
Mike Greig profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 weeks, 3 days ago
This is a really excellent course. Mankind's understanding of solar systems - ours and others - has exploded in a truly amazing manner over the 40 years since I completed a masters degree in physics. This course provides an excellent exposition of that knowledge from a Professor who is undoubtedly a world expert in the field. There are questions mid-lecture and at the end of every week which vary from simple to pretty demanding and require you to concentrate. This is a good thing as it ensures you engage with and understand the material and the overall experience is very enjoyable. The quality of the material presented is outstanding - for example extracts from and explanations of many of the key, formative papers in the development of our understanding. Mike Brown is an excellent presenter - engaging, informative, entertaining, authoritative. I liked many aspects of the on-line delivery including - the ability to stop and rewind the... This is a really excellent course. Mankind's understanding of solar systems - ours and others - has exploded in a truly amazing manner over the 40 years since I completed a masters degree in physics. This course provides an excellent exposition of that knowledge from a Professor who is undoubtedly a world expert in the field. There are questions mid-lecture and at the end of every week which vary from simple to pretty demanding and require you to concentrate. This is a good thing as it ensures you engage with and understand the material and the overall experience is very enjoyable. The quality of the material presented is outstanding - for example extracts from and explanations of many of the key, formative papers in the development of our understanding. Mike Brown is an excellent presenter - engaging, informative, entertaining, authoritative. I liked many aspects of the on-line delivery including - the ability to stop and rewind the lecture if you need to check something, the transcript of each lecture (and the ability to search them), links to additional material and online forums. I am sad that the course has come to an end.
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 weeks ago
This is truly an excellent course. It is intellectually challenging at a very high level. You should take this course to work hard and learn all about the solar system and what we have been able to learn over the history of Astronomy. It is not a broad survey, but rather includes most of the basic concepts to allow one to really understand the evolution of solar systems, planets, smaller objects in the solar system, and ultimately the conditions necessary to support life in the universe.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
4 weeks ago
Intellectually challenging, informative, and well structured to reach a wide range of students. Most importantly it provided the background to be able to follow future advances and the motivation to want to.
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10/10 starsCompleted
4 weeks, 1 day ago
Excellent course. I will be recommending it to my friends. The course is only the qualitative part of Caltech's sophomore level course, which is great for the casual student. To really understand the material for a degree, you would have to also do the Caltech problem sets. If you want to understand what NASA/JPL/Caltech has learned about the solar system in the last 50 years, this is the way to do it. The course is very up to date. One thing that surprised me: essentially no material about the sun which comprises most of the mass of the solar system.
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10/10 starsTaking Now
4 weeks, 1 day ago
One of the best courses I have ever taken, including the ones that I took when I was a student at Caltech. Material is presented in an interesting way, based on physical ideas, and details can be obtained in the supplemental reading that is also provided. Mike taught us the language so that we can now read the literature and understand the press releases. This material did not exist when I took geology and astronomy, so it is the update that everyone should take!
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
1 month ago
Provides close to state of knowledge in rapidly evolving field. I appreciate the logic-based approach in a fact-filled subject. Mike's relaxed, engaging style makes it work very well. Each week's topics broken down in to easily digested bites. This could have been "death by power point" but was not (OK - contrast talks on Europa by guest lecturer with almost any of Mike's sessions) - small number if ideas, logically developed and sketched. It is hard to construct m/c questions that succeed in testing understanding and integration of material. A large number of questions in quizzes did not succeed at this - another "Goldilocks zone" problem. My comments are based on having taught intro courses in a partially-overlapping geoscience field for 40+ yrs. I'll bet my students wish I'd taught my classes like Mike. .
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8/10 starsTaking Now
1 month ago
Some sections clearly date back a few years - pre New Horizons, Juno, Cassini and other missions. Course is quite intense as about 3 hours of detailed lectures a week [plus pauses as you write down or digest stuff]. The quizzes are also not easy and some of the questions take a while to work out. Well worth while if you're prepared to go the distance.
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
1 month ago
Course provided a very good insight into the formation of the solar system and prospectively of others. It demonstrated the ways that we gather information and use it to determine important factors in the history of planets and other system bodies as well as to infer other factors that may be important in their history. The biology and habitability discussion was illuminating, but of less interest than the formation discussion. All was very well done. Prof. Brown is an exceptional pedagogue with a great style and with an honest view of what is known, probable and what is to be discovered.
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
1 month, 1 week ago
This course gave me background to better appreciate some of the past, current, and planned planetary science missions. This includes missions gathering data about exo-planets. The instructor's presentation attitude helps put things in perspective. The course quizzes are not perfect, but doable with retries.
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Rubens m azevedo profile image
Rubens m azevedo profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
1 month, 1 week ago
Very competent and with incredible teaching. Amazing illustrations and very updated. I think it's impossible to have both access to information on the subject anywhere else in the network.
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
1 month, 3 weeks ago
Very interesting subject, excellent instructor, all the material has been explained plainly but using also the minimum math to make you understand the reasons why. I recommend this course.
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Tiziano Colombo profile image
Tiziano Colombo profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
1 month, 3 weeks ago
Excellent course. I learned a lot about solar system. Prof Mike Brown was so engaging students with a plain language telling new findings about the matter.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
2 months ago
Excellent on all counts, but Dr. Brown is just plain great. The material was clearly presented and quizzes were just right to reinforce the lectures....wish all MOOC courses were half as good as this. I'll be going back to this course over the next few iterations to follow progress in this fascinating subject.
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
2 months ago
Last studied solar system in 1960. Amazing progress since then of course. In the course of taking this course, the course was dynamically updated to incorporate findings, results of experiments and observations. Very impressive. .
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
2 months, 1 week ago
This was a fascinating class that was very well presented. The format, instructor and material were all excellent. If you have any interest in the Solar System, I highly recommend this class.
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Stibnite profile image
Stibnite profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
2 months, 2 weeks ago
Very interesting course on the solar system. Certainly in sufficient detail for space enthusiasts and scientist in general. Teacher is clear and guest lecturers are pertinent
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 months ago
I can't find words to thank Mike Brown, Caltech and coursera for this amazing experience. It's the best course I've taken in my life, including my late 90s university years. I've realized how outdated and primitive my knowledge of the solar system was, how far the science has advanced, how exciting modern science life can be, and, eventually, I know now who is be best lecturer in the world :) I'm inspired to learn more about Earth history now, and I'll definitely be returning to the lessons of this course for deeper understanding of some of the details I might have skipped now. I strongly recommending this course to anyone interested in the world around us.
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