Exploring Other Worlds: Astrobiology & Instrumentation

Spring 2022
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 learn basics of planetary formation and composition, fundamental principles of environmental chemistry that explain what sorts of life evolve under certain conditions, and the design of astrobiological studies.

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 or some other method of obtaining GPS measurements. Students can expect our remote teaching to be around 10 hours of synchronous (scheduled) coursework per week, using Zoom and Canvas. Lab will be held 6 hours a week.

*If conditions allow this program may hold a 7-day field trip to Central Oregon and North Eastern California



Students need to have the equivalent of a full year of general chemistry. 

Spring 2022 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16): 30138

Academic details

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$350 for overnight field trip if conditions allow plus $50 required lab fee

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

LAB 2 3221 - Class Lab


Date Revision
2022-02-22 $50 required lab fee added