12.002 | Fall 2008 | Undergraduate

Physics and Chemistry of the Terrestrial Planets


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 3 sessions / week, 1 hour / session


Pater, I. de, and J. J. Lissauer. Planetary Sciences. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001. ISBN: 9780521482196.

Lowrie, W. Fundamentals of Geophysics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997. ISBN: 9780521467285.


M, W, F, 2:00-3:00PM

Classes will be structured around an interactive teaching approach. Student participation (comments, questions, discussion, etc.) is essential for this teaching method to be successful. Note that you will be expected to have done the reading, and part of your grade (±3%) will depend on class participation and preparation.

Problem Sets

Problem sets will be due in class approximately every week and will be graded and returned within one or two class meetings. The main intent of the homework is as a teaching tool. Some collaboration among students can be useful in facilitating this goal. We consider the following approach appropriate. First, spend a reasonable amount of time on your own attempting the problem set. Then, feel free to discuss approaches with your fellow students or come to us with questions.


There will be two one-hour exams. The first will be a mid-term to be taken in class, on mid-term exam. The second will be held during final exam week as a scheduled final, but will be approximately one hour in length. It will be accorded the same weight in grading as the midterm exam. Crib notes for midterm: one page (two sides of an 8.5x11" page). For “final” you may use crib notes from midterm plus one additional page.


A five page paper will be due near the end of the term, on Lec #35. A significant portion of the paper grade will be based on the paper outline (due approximately 4 weeks before the final draft) and rough draft (due approximately 2 weeks before the final draft). See handout for paper guidelines and additional information.


Students will present five-minute presentations on their term-paper topics on the last two days of class in the term.


The course grade will be an average of the following:

Problem sets 40%
Paper and presentation 20%
Midterm 20%
Final 20%
In-class contributions and discussion ±3%

Course Info

Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Problem Sets