• University of Leeds

Atmospheric Chemistry: Planets and Life Beyond Earth

Learn about the atmospheric chemistry of planets and celestial bodies and explore the possibility of finding life beyond Earth.

18,007 enrolled on this course

Online course on Atmospheric Chemistry
  • Duration

    2 weeks
  • Weekly study

    2 hours

Discover the extraordinary world of atmospheric chemistry.

On this course you will learn about planetary atmospheres across our solar system and beyond. You will discover what an atmosphere is, how it’s formed, and how data collected from space missions is used to determine a planet’s atmosphere.

You’ll also look into the factors needed to support life, explore the possibility of life beyond Earth and start the search for habitable planets. You’ll understand how atmospheric chemistry is communicated in the media and get a flavour of one of the most fascinating subjects explored during an undergraduate degree in Chemistry.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds My name is Dr. Julia Lehman. I’m a University Academic Fellow in the School of Chemistry at the University of Leeds. This course is a journey, investigating the chemical composition of planetary atmospheres. We will start the course by asking, what is an atmosphere? And then explore how past and current research helps us understand other planetary atmospheres. And then look into space and start exploring the possibility of life existing beyond our planet. This course is intended for students at the school level. But is also aimed at teachers who want to make their teaching exciting with this new research about this fascinating topic.

Skip to 0 minutes and 47 seconds This is an introductory course, which will also be of interest to learners of all ages that want to gain an understanding of other planetary atmospheres. This is a unique course, and it is one of the few exploring the exciting topic of planetary atmospheres from a chemistry point of view. By the end of this course, you will have a basic understanding of planetary atmospheres, be able to critically research and analyse material about the composition of planetary atmospheres, and be able to write about your scientific findings relating to the topic of atmospheric chemistry or the chemical composition of planetary atmospheres. Join this course and find out about the extraordinary planets in our universe.

What topics will you cover?

  • Planetary observation using active and passive space missions.
  • How scientists analyse the composition of planetary atmospheres.
  • How atmospheres are created and evolve.
  • The factors needed to support life.
  • The search for habitable planets outside our solar system.

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

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Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore the diversity of planetary atmospheres across the solar system.
  • Investigate what scientific data on the composition of planetary atmospheres can be gathered from Earth and from space probes.
  • Reflect on the search for habitable planets.
  • Assess how the science of planetary atmospheres is presented in the media.

Who is the course for?

The course is for anyone with a general interest in atmospheric chemistry but it will be particularly useful for students at schools and colleges who want to study chemistry at university. The course is part of the Going to University collection and completing it can help improve your university application by broadening your chemistry knowledge and developing your independent learning skills. The course can also be used as a teachers’ classroom enrichment resource.

Who will you learn with?

I'm a Senior Lecturer in the School of Chemistry, now at the University of Birmingham. I work with lasers to probe chemical reactions important in planetary atmospheres.

Who developed the course?

University of Leeds

As one of the UK’s largest research-based universities, the University of Leeds is a member of the prestigious Russell Group and a centre of excellence for teaching.

Learning on FutureLearn

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Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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