Earth and Planetary Exploration Technology (EPET)

Launched Spring 2020Undergraduate certificate with 4 CoursesCapstone design project Linking "why" and "how to" do space & planetary exploration

The Earth and Planetary Exploration Technology (EPET) certificate program provides science and engineering majors with a comprehensive understanding of the scientific and engineering knowledge, in theory and practice, to successfully explore our own and other worlds, from the deepest oceans to the far reaches of our Solar System.

  • The 15-credit, four-course curriculum combines project-based learning with lectures, laboratory projects, and field studies to integrate the nature of planetary materials and landforms with the science and engineering tools to study them.
  • Students work in interdisciplinary teams as they will when planning, implementing, and operating missions during their careers.
  • Students become familiar with the tools of exploration, including sensors and scientific instruments, robotic vehicles as platforms for remote sensing and sampling, spacecraft fundamentals, and mission architecture, planning and operation.
  • EPET provides a focused and coherent body of courses for students majoring in the Physical Sciences (such as Chemistry, Earth Sciences, and Physics) and Engineering disciplines. 
  • Enables students to obtain a formal qualification in the science and technology that underpins the robotic and human exploration of our Solar System.
  • Enables students to enter the Earth and Space Exploration workforce in their major science or engineering discipline.
  • EPET 201 Exploration of the Solar System  (Lecture, 3 credits, 3 contact hours/week/semester)
  • EPET 301 Space Science and Instrumentation   (Lecture/Laboratory, 4 credits, 6 contact hours/week/semester)
  • EPET 302 Space Mission Design   (Lecture/Laboratory, 4 credits, 6 contact hours/week/semester)
  • EPET 401 Capstone Project: Producing a Science Satellite   (Lecture/Laboratory, 4 credits, 6 contact hours/week/semester)

The EPET Certificate Program courses will be offered in sequence on a regular four-semester cycle:

  • semester 1 spring: EPET 201
  • semester 2 fall:      EPET 301
  • semester 3 spring: EPET 302
  • semester 4 fall:      EPET 401

Traditional assessment methods of individual and group performance and learning are coupled with project reviews and design reviews.

300-level courses: Final designs are evaluated through reviews of progress and upon completion.

400-level capstone project: A series of reviews, including a preliminary design review, a critical design review, integration and testing, and finally (mock-up) launch and operation simulations are used to measure and assure successful completion.


EPET 201 Space Exploration  (Lecture course, 3 credits, three contact hours per semester week)

Introduction to the science and engineering of Solar System exploration. Covers science instruments, mission trajectories (fly-by, orbit, or lander), and science and engineering constraints imposed on spacecraft design. Lectures, discussions, class projects, field trip. A-F only. Prerequisites: none. (Spring only) (Cross-listed as ME 201). See the course syllabus (pdf).


EPET 301 Space Science and Instrumentation  (Lecture/laboratory course, 4 credits, six contact hours per semester week)

Essential techniques for remote compositional analysis of planets; understanding spectroscopy, mineralogy, and geochemistry of planetary surfaces and their measurement. Design of space flight instrumentation. A-F only. Prerequisites: EPET/ME 201,  CHEM 161, and  PHYS 272. The following are alternatives to the EPET/ME 201 prerequisite: ERTH 101 and ERTH 101L and ERTH 105, or ERTH 101 and ERTH 107. (Fall only) (Cross-listed as ME 301)


EPET 400 Space Mission Design  (Lecture/laboratory course, 4 credits, six contact hours per semester week).

Will cover all aspects of spacecraft design, subsystems, science payload, systems engineering, project management, and budgets that are important to producing a fully successful mission. A-F only. Prerequisites: EPET/ME 301 or ERTH 404. (Spring only) (Cross-listed as ME 400). See the course syllabus (pdf).


EPET 401 Capstone Project: Producing a Science Satellite  (Lecture/laboratory course, 4 credits, six contact hours per semester week).

Develop a space mission using a multidisciplinary team of engineers and scientists using concurrent science and engineering methodologies. Will build a small spacecraft and payload. The project will seek to answer important science questions. A-F only. Prerequisites: EPET/ME 301 or ERTH 404 and EPET/ME 400. (Fall only) (Cross-listed as ME 401)

EPET courses will be offered on a regular four-semester cycle. Take a look at the model syllabi:

EPET 201 (pdf), EPET 301 (pdf)EPET 400 (pdf), EPET 401 (pdf).

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