Planetary Science 9603A: Introduction to Planetary Science Short Course


Instructor: Catherine Neish
Offered: August 30 - September 5 2021 

Course Discription:

This is an intensive 7-day short course for graduate students, researchers, industry and government employees on planetary science. This course is mandatory for all new planetary science graduate students at Western and should be taken during the first year. The focus of the course will be on the fundamental processes that have shaped the terrestrial planets and their moons, and asteroids. Particular emphasis will be placed on investigations of the Moon, Mars, and asteroids, which represent the highest priority targets for the Canadian planetary science community and the Canadian Space Agency. Some of the world’s leading experts on planetary science will present 1 day or half-day modules on selected topics. The course will be suitable for advanced undergraduate students, graduate students and for professionals from industry and government. The course will feature both overview lectures on background theory, smaller topical study groups as well as hands-on activities involving imagery returned from unmanned orbiters and landers as well as astromaterials in the form of meteorites and analogue materials. Recent and ongoing planetary missions will be highlighted. It is intended to provide the non-specialist with a working knowledge of the multidisciplinary fields within planetary science.


No specific prerequisites are required, but previous enrollment in at least one Earth Science or Planetary Science course is generally required. Please speak to the instructors if you have any concerns or are seeking an exception.

Course Materials:

To participate in this course, you need a computer with (a) access to the Internet, (b) a
working camera and microphone, and (c) a copy of Zoom installed
( You will also need to download one software package in advance of the class:

  1. JMARS is a free planetary GIS package, which provides instant access to planetary data for almost every object visited by spacecraft in our Solar System. It is highly recommended that you download from this link
    ( Extensive tutorials for visualizing planetary datasets, and some basic instructions on data manipulation, can be found here:


Detailed Syllabus:

For a detailed syllabus please click here.