the SCIENCE of the



Planet Party

Welcome to the

#SciSolSys student blog!


This blog is a glimpse into outer space through the eyes of students at the California Institute of Technology, one of the world’s premier research universities. Written by us—the students—this is a chronicle of the classroom activities of Ge11c/103, “The Science of the Solar System.” Here, you’ll read about our scientific investigation of the universe: the questions we ask, the challenges we face, and the incredible answers we find.



Four Questions:


Where is the water on Mars? We’ll explore geology, atmospheric science, geochemistry, and interior physics to track water through time and figure out where and when it might have been on the surface.


What is inside of a giant planet? We’ll figure out all of the indirect methods scientists have used to learn about the interior of Jupiter and other giant planets, from understanding the formation of the solar system, experimenting with high pressure physics, calculating atmospheric structures, to exploring other giant planets here and outside the solar system.


How can we use the smallest bodies in the solar system to answer  the biggest question? We’ll learn about the populations of small bodies in the solar system, from the asteroids to the tiny satellites, to the distant Kuiper belt, and how we have been using these objects to determine how the solar system was formed, how it has rearranged since then, and how changes are continuing to happen.


Where might we look for life in and beyond the solar system? We’ll explore life in extreme environments on the Earth and then consider the habitability of places like Mars, Europa, Enceladus, and Titan before broadly considering habitability in the galactic environment.