ASTR S-8 Space Exploration and Astrobiology: The Search for Life in the Cosmos

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7-week session | CRN 31489

This course is an introduction to the cutting-edge methods astronomers and planetary scientists use to explore the solar system and other stellar systems in our galaxy. The ultimate goal of current research in this field is finding life elsewhere in the solar system and searching for potentially habitable exoplanets and exomoons orbiting other stars. Topics include the exploration of planets done by telescopes, orbiters, and rovers; origins of life on Earth and current attempts at creating synthetic life in the lab; the discovery of planets around other stars; new observational and theoretical developments about the origin and evolution of stars and their planets. Students are introduced to the astronomical techniques used in current and planned telescopic space missions aimed at finding and characterizing exoplanets, learn how to interpret the data from several ongoing robotic missions, such as the Mars rovers, and are introduced to current ideas about the chemical evolution of the Milky Way and other galaxies.

Course information
Class meetings

Tuesdays, Thursdays, noon-3 pm
Geological Museum 102

Required laboratories to be arranged.

Start date

Tuesday, June 26


4 credits

Course tuition


Enrollment status

  • Registration Closed
  • Prerequisites

    High school algebra; some physics background is useful but not necessary.



    Alessandro Massarotti, PhD.

    Associate Professor of Physics and Director, Earth and Planetary Science Program, Stonehill College and Associate of the Department of Astronomy, Harvard University