Graduate Offerings

12.601 Essentials of Planetary Science
Reviews fundamental physical concepts pertaining to the study of the solar system, and highlights recent spacecraft results. Topics include: meteorites, orbital dynamics, asteroids, impact craters, surfaces, atmospheres, atmospheric dynamics, interiors, magnetospheres, rings, comets, formation of the solar system.

12.602 Asteroids and Small Bodies

Introduction to the study of asteroids and the ground-based and space-based techniques used to explore them. Topics include asteroid orbital properties, surface structure, physical properties, classifications, as well as their origin, thermal and collisional evolution, and interrelationships with meteorites and comets. Subject also covers the near-earth asteroids, the probabilities and consequences of terrestrial collisions, and the possible utilization of asteroids as space resources.

12.603 Solar System Dynamics

Introduction to chaotic behavior in conservative systems, with examples drawn primarily from the rotation and orbital dynamics of planets and satellites. Includes surfaces of section, Lyapunov exponents, perturbation theory, KAM theorem, resonances, onset of chaos, double pendulum, Henon-Heiles problem, restricted three-body problem, spin-orbit coupling, orbital resonances, adiabatic invariants, adiabatic chaos, tidal evolution, capture into resonance, and stability of the solar system.

12.616 Occultations, Eclipses, and Transits

Basic principles underlying occultation, eclipse, and transit phenomena, by solar system bodies and extra-solar planets, as observed throughout the electromagnetic spectrum from spacecraft and Earth-based platforms. Methods for predicting the times and locations where these phenomena will be visible and the techniques used for their observation. Data interpretation through physical modeling of the interaction (including gravitational lensing) of electromagnetic radiation with planetary limbs, rings, and atmospheres.

12.621J Physical Principles of Remote Sensing

Spacecraft and Earth-based remote sensing techniques used to study the Earth and other planets, satellites, asteroids, and comets. Emphasizes the physics of electromagnetic radiation to achieve an understanding of remote sensing applications including visible and infrared imaging, spectroscopy, microwave, radar, lidar, and in situ measurements. Recent results from spacecraft emphasized.