Exoplanets: Detection, Characterization, Evolution and Habitability
$2190 per person
This is a 4-day course on the rapidly developing science of exoplanets. The course provides an overview of exoplanet detection techniques; interior, atmospheric and surface characterization; models of planetary formation, evolution, and orbit migration; characterization of habitability; current and future observational platforms; and bio-signatures.
This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the observational techniques used to detect and characterize exoplanets, illustrated with examples discovered with the Hubble Space Telescope, the Kepler Space Telescope, and from the various ground-based observatories around the world. Characterization of exoplanet atmospheric structure, based upon models of coupled chemical-dynamical- radiative processes and constrained by exoplanet observations, will be introduced and discussed. Planetary formation models, along with orbital migration, will be covered with the goal of understanding the inferred ranges of exoplanet compositions and orbital parameter distributions.
Finally, exoplanet habitability will be explored using terrestrial life, especially extremophiles, as a biological baseline in the search for chemical signatures of disequilibrium processes that could indicate biology. Anticipated advances in exoplanet science expected from the upcoming deployment of the James Webb Space Telescope and the TESS sky survey telescope will be addressed.
A broad survey of exoplanets is provided, as well as a rigorous description of the physics and chemistry of their interiors and atmospheres, at a level suitable for those beginning research in this arena.
Michael E. Summers is Professor of Planetary Science and Astronomy at George Mason University. He has over 30 years experience in planetary research, and has served as co-investigator on the NASA New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, as well as in a range of planning and science support roles on other Space Shuttle, satellite, and planetary missions. He won the 2013 George Mason University Teaching Excellence Award. He is the co-author, with Jim Trefil, of the recent book “Exoplanets” published by The Smithsonian Press.
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