Sr - Planets And Life: The Science Of Astrobiology

Class Overview

Astrobiology is a new science that seeks to answer an old question: Are we alone in the cosmos? This class will be a travelogue-style overview of the science of discovering life and worlds in our Solar System and elsewhere in the galaxy.

There are those at NASA and elsewhere who believe we are on the verge of discovering evidence of life on other worlds. In this class we will critically evaluate scientific issues discussed in the media and popular culture. Participate in applying a basic understanding of the scientific method to the investigation of problems that concern our civilization.

Dip your toes into astrobiology, cosmochemistry and appreciation of the Earth. Bring your imagination and get ready for vast exploration!

This course is part of our Senior Series, courses designed for older students offered during the daytime on diverse topics, though students of all ages are welcome.

Optional Textbook 

Sullivan, Woody; Baross, John (eds.). Planets and Life: The Emerging Science of Astrobiology.  NY: Cambridge Univ. Press; 2007

Learning Outcomes

  • Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to: 
  • Critically evaluate scientific issues discussed in the media and popular culture
  • Apply a basic understanding of the scientific method to investigate problems in multiple scientific disciplines
  • Appreciate the Earth from a cosmic perspective

Who Should Take This Class? 

Prerequisites: imagination, curiosity and perseverance

  • Anyone who is curious about our place in this awesome universe
  • Imaginative explorers of any age


Class Details

This class is held online by videoconferencing. It is led by an instructor(s) in real-time as an interactive class experience. To attend and participate fully you will need access to a computer or device with video and a microphone, plus high-speed internet connection. Instructions to access the class will be emailed to you by the instructor or staff member before the class begins. Note: part of this class might be recorded, for the students and instructor to use for review only; recordings will be deleted after the end of the quarter.


Fall 2021

  • 8 Wednesdays ; Sep 29 to Nov 17 ; 10:30 am to 12:00 pm
  • Location : SCONL; Room Online
  • Fee : $109
  • Class ID : 38753 ; SKU : 29707