Geology of the Solar System

Course Details

Course Number
GEOS 3424
Spring 2014
Bolin Hall
Classroom Number
Days & Times

(Lecture) Monday, 9am-9:50am BO 125, (Lab) Wed, 3pm-4:50pm

Dr. Jesse Carlucci (view Profile)


Introduction to the Solary System by Rothery, 2nd
Planetary Geomorphology, by Greeley

Course Objectives

  • Apply scientific methods of understanding to the history of the solar system, and associated processes like volcanology, crater development, orbital dynamics, and tectonics.
  • Relate change through time to underlying geologic variables that predict and explain planetary surface processes and the current distribution of elements, minerals, and orbital bodies in the solar system.
  • Develop critical thinking skills that allow students to evaluate scientific hypotheses related to claims about solar system processes (e.g., the origin of the Moon, Martian lava tubes, etc.).
  • Apply data analysis techniques and interpretation on remotely gathered planetary data (crater density, spectroscopic and thermal emissions, lunar mineralogy, aerial photographs etc.).
  • Explain the major scientific events in planetary geology and how these observations have revolutionized our understanding of the origin of the Earth and the solar system.
  • Understand how surface processes (eolian, volcanic, fluvial) influence the geomorphology and regolith development of terrestrial planetary bodies, and how the atmospheric chemistry of Jovian worlds explains their climate and weather systems.
  • Characterize the mineralogy and petrology of other planetary bodies and understand the implications for geology on Earth.
  • Understand the use of geologic and biologic analogues in studies that characterize the physical and chemical environments of other planets and their potential for harboring life.

Course Expectations

Grading scheme

Quizzes 15%

Lecture mid-term 15%

Lecture final 20%

Landing Site Proposal 20%

Labs 30%


The quizzes will be held in the last 25 minutes of class, and I will let everyone know the subject the class period before.


Review sheets for the lecture midterm and final will be passed out the class period before the exam. Each will include a combination of multiple choice, short answer, and essay-style questions.

Grading Standards

In this class, the following numerical equivalents for grades are used: A = 100-90% | B = 89-80% | C = 79-70% | D = 69-60% | F = 59-0%.

Submission Format Policy

Field Trip: We will be taking a field trip to Houston Texas with the following schedule:


April 24: Lunar and Planetary Institute, Dr. Seth Shostak, SETI Institute

April 25: Johnson Space Center


Rover Landing Site Proposal:

In addition to books and research journals, the following organizations are approved web sources:

    Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society

    American Geophysical Union

    Meteoritical Society



Ames (NASA)

Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

China National Space Administration (CNSA)

Centre national d'études spatiales French National Centre of Space

 Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V., (German: abbreviated DLR), the German Aerospace Center

 European Space Agency (ESA).

 Russian Federal Space Agency B


 Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO),

 Israel Space Agency (ISA),

 Italian Space Agency

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).


 NASA: Considerable number of research groups, including the JPL, GSFC, Ames.

 National Space Organization (Republic of China in Taiwan).

UK Space Agency (UKSA).

Brown University Planetary Geosciences Group

Caltech's Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences

Florida Institute of Technology's Department of Physics and Space Sciences

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Lunar and Planetary Institute

MIT Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences

Open University Planetary and Space Sciences Research Institute

Planetary Science Institute

UCLA Dept. of Earth and Space Sciences

University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Lab

University of California Santa Cruz's Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences

University of Hawaii's Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology

University of Copenhagen's Center for Planetary Research

University of Central Florida Planetary Sciences Group

University of British Columbia Institute for Planetary Science

University of Western Ontario's Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration

University of Tennessee Planetary Geoscience

University of Colorado's Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences

Research journals: e.g., Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Icarus etc.


Illustrations should be included where appropriate and may be photocopied or scanned directly from a scientific journal or text book. However, the source of the information should be indicated in the figure caption (e.g. from Jones, 2001). You may also use images from the web, but include the site information.


Length. The text (excluding title page and references) of the essay should be 4-6 pages (double spaced) in length; 12 point font; margins should be 1 inch. There is no limit on the number of illustrations.


Check that your proposal is free from basic grammatical, spelling and typographic errors before handing it in.


Proposal Grading. Grading is based on: content (10 pts), style and organization (8 pts) and references/citation (7 pts).

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.

Late Paper Policy

For all assignments, the late penalty is 5% per

working day (25% per week). No assignments will be accepted after Wednesday of finals week.

Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception.

Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters.

We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student.

We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed.

Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, (940) 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement

The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor

All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Attendance Requirements

Attendance is required for both lecture and lab. Absences can only be excused by contacting me in advance, prior to lecture or laboratory assignments. Absences presented after the class is over will not be accommodated except in rare circumstances. I reserve the right to drop any student from the class who has more than 3 unexcused absences. Attendance will be used to make decisions on the final grade score of students who are on the border between two letter grades.

Writing Proficiency Requirement

All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed the 6 hours of Communication Core and and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.

Campus Carry

Senate Bill 11 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature allows licensed handgun holders to carry concealed handguns on campus, effective August 1, 2016. Areas excluded from concealed carry are appropriately marked, in accordance with state law. For more information regarding campus carry, please refer to the University’s webpage at

If you have questions or concerns, please contact MSU Chief of Police Patrick Coggins at