Introduction to Planetary Science is intended to be used in a lecture course for college students majoring in Earth Sciences. Planetary science provides an opportunity for these students to apply a wide range of subject matter pertaining to the Earth to the study of other planets and their principal satellites. In this way, planetary science tends to unify subjects in the Earth Sciences that are traditionally taught separately. Therefore, planetary science is well-suited to be taught as a capstone course for senior undergraduates in geology departments and as an introduction to the solar system in astronomy departments. Both groups of students will benefit because planetary science bridges the gap between geology and astronomy and it prepares geologists and astronomers to participate actively in the on-going exploration of the solar system.
The subject matter is presented in 24 chapters that lead the reader through the solar system starting with historical perspectives on space exploration and the development of the scientific method. The presentations concerning the planets and their satellites emphasize that their origin and subsequent evolution can be explained by applications of certain basic principles of physics, chemistry, and celestial mechanics and that the surface features of the solid bodies in the solar system can be interpreted by means of the principles of geology.
1. The urge to explore
2. From speculation to understanding
3. The planets of the solar system
4. Life and death of stars
5. Origin of the solar system
6. The earth: model of planetary evolution
7. The clockwork of the solar system
8. Meteorites and impact craters
9. The Earth-Moon system
10. Mercury: too hot for comfort
11. Venus: planetary evolution gone bad
12. Mars: the little planet that could
13. Asteroids: shattered worlds
14. Jupiter: heavy-weight champion
15. Galilean satellites: jewels of the solar system
16. Saturn: the beauty of rings
17. Titan: an ancient world in deep freeze
18. Uranus: what happened here?
19. Neptune: more surprises
20. Pluto and Charon: the odd couple
21. Ice worlds at the outer limit
22. Comets: coming inside from the cold
23. Earth: the cradle of humans
24. Brown-dwarf stars and extrasolar planets
Appendix I. Mathematical equations used in astronomy
Appendix II. Summaries of physical and orbital parameters
"The authors, Gunter Faure and Teresa M. Mensing, have produced a book that is remarkably up to date, nicely illlustrated, and written in an engaging style. An especially effective touch is that each chapter ends with one or more scientific briefs, introducing students to especially interesting topics in greater detail. This text will significantly improve teaching and learning about planetary geoscience, and I will be using it for my own undergraduate course, supplemented with other readings."
- H. McSween, in Elements, Vol. 4, Nr. 1, February 2008