Exploring Other Worlds: Astrobiology and Instrumentation (remote/in-person*)

Fall 2020
Sophomore - Senior
Class Size: 25
16 Credits per quarter
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This upper-division field- and laboratory-intensive program incorporates principles of planetary science, astrobiology, analytical chemistry, and instrumental analysis to explore the methods scientists use to discover extraterrestrial life. 

Students will be introduced to instrumental analysis techniques that can be used in the lab, in the field, or through remote sensing. Students will learn field sampling techniques during excursions to the campus forest and local open space preserves. Advanced techniques for instrumental analysis of geological and chemical parameters will be developed in the laboratory with an emphasis on quantitative analysis, quality control procedures, research design and methods development. Instruments to be used include the Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS) and the Discrete Analyzer.

Students will work individually and collaboratively to write standard operating procedures, read scientific literature, and develop communication and analysis skills necessary for the results and discussion sections of scientific papers, posters, and presentations.

To successfully participate in this program, students will need an internet connection, home computer, field notebook, textbooks, and a smartphone. Students can expect our remote teaching to be around 12 hours of synchronous (scheduled) coursework per week, using Zoom and Canvas. Students will have access to alternatives to synchronous participation if conditions require. There may be optional outdoor on-campus activities. 

*If conditions allow this program may hold in-person work including lab activities. 



15 credits of general chemistry with laboratory. Completion of pre-calculus or equivalent.

Fall 2020 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16): 10156

Academic details

Preparatory For

chemistry, planetary science, earth science, environmental studies

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing
Upper Division Science Credit

Up to 16 upper division science credits may be earned in astrobiology, instrumental analysis, and scientific writing for those students completing work at a satisfactory level.


Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting