Starfleet Academy Division of Arts & Sciences/Planetary Sciences

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Planetary Sciences Department

The scientific study of planets, moons, and planetary systems (in particular those of the Solar System) and the processes that form them. It includes geology, hydrology, meteorology, climatology, ecology and oceanography, among others.

  • PSD101: Concepts
    • Introduction to the study of planetary systems, the major elements contained within planetary systems, and the processes that form them. The course will include a brief survey of the various disciplines involved in this interdisciplinary field.
  • PSD110: Introduction to Geology
    • Introduction to the processes, materials and structures that shape M-Class planets. Emphasizes the dynamic nature of a planet's tectonic system and its relationship to physical features, volcanism, earthquakes, minerals and rocks and geologic structures.
  • PSD130: Introduction to mineralogy and gemology
    • Introduction to the nature of minerals: composition, structure, physical properties, and origins, with emphasis on gem minerals. Focuses on topics of particular interest in gemology, such as mechanisms of color, history and lore of gems, and uses of gems. Hands-on laboratories using approximately one hundred representative gems and minerals.
  • PSD160: Introduction to Volcanology
    • Survey of major volcanoes and volcanic eruptions throughout the Federation. Examines the mechanics of volcanoes and how they affect their respective environments. Course will include review of both historic and current methods of predicting volcanic eruptions.
  • PSD201: Interdisciplinary Earth Sciences Field Seminar
    • A continuation of PSD101, with lectures and demonstrations in field settings.
  • PSD210: Introduction to Climate Systems
    • A survey of the climate systems of Earth, Vulcan, Andor and Tellar Prime. Course will include a study of each of the aforementioned planets' dynamic environment, global energy balance, interplay of chemical, physical, and biological processes shaping their respective surface and climate. Emphasis on quantitative methods for measuring, evaluating, and understanding contemporary changes relative to the last several thousand years.
  • PSD220: Introduction to Seismology
    • A study of planetary quakes, their cause and relationship to plate tectonics, with an emphasis on Terran planetary quakes. Study will include historic earthquakes of Earth and their effect on regional civilizations.
  • PSD222: Physical Geology
    • Continuation of PSD110, with an emphasis on plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanism and glaciation.
  • PSD225: Physical Processes of M-Class Planets
    • Topics discussed will include deformation of soil, sediment, and rock, erosional and depositional processes and landforms, seismicity and plate-tectonics, and structural, geomorphic, and climatic interactions in major tectonic regimes
  • PSD310: Planetary Geology
    • Continuation of PSD222. In addition, there will be a survey of significant geological features across the Federation, with an entailed look at the physical processes that produced them. Students will also work in teams for a class project, designing a program for a Class III probe to a hypothetical planet.
  • PSD320: Geomechanics
    • Introduction to continuum mechanics: elasticity, fluid dynamics, diffusion, porous flow, multiphase flow, dimensional analysis, and natural convection. Example applications: earthquakes and rock mechanics, flow of glaciers, slope stability, debris flows, groundwater flow, contaminant transport, flow in rivers and channels, mantle and magma convection. Students are required to either have taken, or be concurrently enrolled in, PHYS225, MATH211 and MATH332.
  • PSD325: Geophysics
    • Introduction to geophysical methods including refraction and reflection seismology, gravity, magnetics, electrical resistivity, heat flow, and geodesy. Laboratory exercises explore interpretation of geophysical data to determine elastic wave speed, density, magnetic susceptibility, and electrical conductivity at depth. Students are required to either have taken, or be concurrently enrolled in, PHYS225, MATH211 and MATH332.
  • PSD425: Physical Processes of non-M-Class Planets
    • A continuation of topics discussed in PSD225, with applications of those subjects on non-M-Class planets. In addition, crystallography, crystal chemistry, and characteristics of rock-forming and ore minerals will be discussed. In addition to PSD225, students are required to either have taken, or be concurrently enrolled in, CHEM422
  • PSD430: Global Tectonics
    • A continuation of PSD220, with an introduction to large-scale plate tectonics processes and observations including motions on a sphere, polar-wander paths, plate-boundary seismicity, focal mechanisms, gravity, magnetics, and heat flow. Also includes observations and theories of plate deformation and continental dynamics. Case studies will be made on instructor selected Federation worlds.
  • PSD455: Principles of Glaciology
    • Covers snow deposition and metamorphism, avalanches, heat and mass balance at snow and ice surfaces, glacier flow, ice sheets, sea ice, permafrost, methods of paleoclimate reconstruction. Students are required to either have taken, or be concurrently enrolled in, PHYS201.
  • PSD480: Great Geological Issues
    • History and development of geological and paleontological theories and controversies; philosophy and methodology that have driven scientific inquiry in the planetary sciences.





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