Space and Planetary Science

Undergraduate Program

Space and Planetary Science

Satellite in space

Space and Planetary Science Minor Overview

With PSU's minor in space and planetary science, you'll gain a new appreciation of our place in the universe and prepare yourself for an exciting career in space science research. Space and planetary science is interdisciplinary in nature, making the minor an excellent supplement to a variety of fields, from chemistry and physics to geology and astronomy.

Planetary scientists work to improve our understanding of the planets, satellites and smaller bodies in the solar system. By studying the atmospheres, surfaces and interiors of planets, researchers can get clues to the origins and mechanics of our own planet, and the possibilities of life on other planets.

In the minor, you'll learn about a diverse range of topics, including the geological workings of planets, the evolution of life, exploration of the solar system and the universe beyond, and the origin of our solar system through studies of meteorites and astronomical studies of our solar system and exoplanets.

We offer:

  • Hands-on geologic field investigations and trips to observe the night sky
  • Engaging electives on topics such as the potential for life on other planets, spacecraft exploration of Mars, and meteorites
  • Opportunities to work with our on-campus meteorite lab

Degree Details

Location Definitions:

On campus:
100% on campus
Online:
100% online
Flexible:
Combination of online and on campus
  • m
    Minor
    Locations
    On campus
    Flexible
    Total Credits
    28
    Start Term
    Any

Space and Planetary Science Minor: Why PSU?

In your courses, you'll enjoy small classes taught by excellent faculty, some of whom are or have been involved with NASA-funded projects. The topics we cover are usually offered as graduate courses elsewhere and often not all at one institution, giving you a competitive edge. Some of courses are taught as hybrid or online courses to accommodate your busy schedule.

The minor provides you with a unique opportunity to learn from and work with experts, engage in mini-research projects with our meteorite lab, and volunteer in science or rock museums.

Our region is an important source area of meteorites. We're home to the Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory, which houses the largest public collection of meteorites in the Northwest and helps identify whether suspected meteorites collected by the public are, in fact, real.

We're also not far from the Great Basin of Oregon, where hot springs teem with microbial life that leave geologic deposits important for providing clues to our distant past on Earth or possible life forms on other planets.

Portland State is also a member of the Oregon Space Grant Consortium, a statewide network of universities, colleges, museums, educators, researchers, students and science professionals promoting STEM education while recruiting and training NASA's next diverse workforce.

What can I do with a minor in Space and Planetary Science?

PSU's Space and Planetary Science minor prepares you to launch a career in the exciting field of space sciences, and equips you with critical thinking skills that will help you succeed in a variety of jobs.

Students can pair their minor with their academic work in physics, geology and pre-teacher education, or use it as preparation for graduate studies in planetary sciences.

Featured Courses

  • G 201 Dynamic Earth: Interior
  • G 202 Dynamic Earth: Surface
  • PH 121 General Astronomy
  • G 345U Life in the Universe
  • G 346 Exploring Mars
  • G 456 Astrogeology
  • G 446 Meteorites
     

Featured Electives

  • G 340U Life of the Past
  • G 205 Geology Laboratory
  • G 203 Historical Geology

Accreditation

Portland State University is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).