Minor in Space Science and Engineering

Main Content

Welcome to the Student Handbook for the Minor in Space Science and Engineering (hereafter “the Minor”). The website will tell you about the Minor and its requirements. Also included are a set of sample programs, a list of suggested courses, and information about potential internships.

The Minor is open to all students in the Whiting School of Engineering and the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences who have the prerequisites for the required courses.

The objective of the Minor is to prepare students for a career in space science and space engineering, either directly as an entering professional in industry, government laboratories, and other organizations, or as a student in a graduate program. The educational goal of the Minor is to enable you to:

  • Apply your understanding and mastery of the fundamental scientific, engineering, and mathematical principles obtained through your major subject of study to space science and space engineering
  • Help you develop an understanding and capacity for interdisciplinary approaches to technical activities
  • Improve your ability to work in multidisciplinary teams, which are typical in space and other complex technical activities, through interdisciplinary education and internship(s) or equivalent experience(s).

Requirements for the Minor

The Minor seeks to achieve the goals discussed above by requiring:

  • A Proposal and Course Plan, which must be approved by your adviser for the minor (hereafter referred to as the “Adviser”). The proposal must discuss a theme that unites the individual elements of the program (courses and internship(s)) into an intellectual whole
  • Five courses in Science and Engineering. One course is specified and the remaining four are chosen through your Proposal and Course Plan, which must be approved prior to taking the courses by the Adviser. All courses must be taken for a grade rather than pass/fail. Courses that are named as requirements for the student’s major may not be used. However, courses that are not named, but satisfy an elective requirement for the major, may be used
  • An internship or equivalent experience in the field of space science and engineering is required. This must have prior approval from the Adviser
  • A brief report on the internship or equivalent experience to the Adviser.

Course Requirements

Specified Course:

The specified course is 171.321 Introduction to Space Science and Technology. The prerequisites are Physics 171.101-102 or a similar engineering course and Calculus 110.108-109. The course carries 3 credits. The course is co-listed by the Departments of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Materials Science, and Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.

Proposal and Course Plan for the Four Courses:

To ensure that the program is a coherent intellectual activity, you are required to submit a Proposal and Course Plan to your Adviser early in their program, prior to taking the courses. The Proposal and Course Plan will identify a theme that describes the educational goal that you will pursue through your course of study and a list of courses, including alternates, to achieve your goal. Examples of such themes could be “Remote observations of the earth and planets from space vehicles” or “Spacecraft design for astronomy missions.” Examples of potential course programs are listed in Section 5 below. A list of suggested candidate courses is listed in Section 6 below. If consistent with the Proposal and Course Plan theme, you may use other courses with the permission of your Adviser. The Course Plan should contain alternative courses in recognition that every course may not be taught every year.

The Proposal should also include ideas for completing the internship requirement discussed below.

Additional Requirements on the Four Courses

  • One of the four courses may be at the 200 level, but at least three must be at the 300 level or higher.
  • The total credits associated with the courses must be 12 or more.
  • At least three of the courses must be in departments other than the department or program of your major.
  • Courses cannot be “named” requirements of the major; however, elective courses for the major may be used.

Internship or Equivalent Experience

Practical experience in space science and space engineering can be obtained through an academic internship, non-academic internship or an equivalent experience. This practical experience can be acquired by at least six weeks of full-time effort or the equivalent effort spread over a longer period. This can take place during a summer or during the academic year.

Academic Internships

The Undergraduate Student Handbook describes the regulations governing academic internships. You may find the following quoted material from the Handbook helpful:

  • “Academic internships are practical work experiences which have an academic component as certified by a member of the faculty.”
  • “Academic credit for independent academic work must be sponsored by a full-time member of the Homewood faculty. This is the case whether the work is done on campus or not. The work supervisor and the faculty sponsor may be the same individual. If the faculty sponsor is not the work supervisor, the work supervisor must provide the faculty sponsor with a report on the student’s achievements while doing the independent project.”
  • “Only one credit may be earned for an academic internship during one semester or summer.”
  • “The grading method is Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory only.”
  • “Independent work done for academic credit must be unpaid.”
  • “The use of credit for independent academic work to satisfy the requirements of a major or minor is subject to prior written approval by the appropriate department or program.”

Non-academic Internships

These internships are offered by non-academic organizations such as the Space Telescope Science Institute, the Applied Physics Laboratory, and a number of NASA laboratories to provide undergraduate students practical work experience in space science and space engineering. These internships often carry a stipend and are not eligible for academic credit.

Opportunities within the university include the Applied Physics Laboratory, the Center for Astrophysical Sciences, the Space Telescope Science Institute, as well as individual professors and research staff. In addition, local laboratories and companies, such as NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Orbital Sciences, and other private corporations offer excellent opportunities for internships and summer work experiences.

Equivalent Experiences

Other activities that meet the spirit of the requirement may be accepted. For example, employment opportunities, often in the summer, can provide practical experience in space science and space engineering.

Prior Approval Required

The student is responsible for identifying and arranging the internship or equivalent experience. However, in order to count toward the Minor, it must be approved in advance by the Adviser. In general, the Adviser will require that the mentor or supervisor be either a space scientist or space engineer.

Required Report on the Internship or Work Experience

In order to have it count toward the Minor, the student must provide a brief report (typically one page) describing the internship or equivalent experience to the Adviser at the beginning of the semester immediately following the activity. The report should give the name of the organization or laboratory (e.g., STScI, JHU-APL, NASA-GSFC), the start date and duration, and the name, position, and email address of the mentor/supervisor. It should include a brief summary describing the activity, a description of new knowledge and skills learned, and information about the overall experience.


Advising for the Minor

Advanced consulting with the Adviser is crucial for success in the Minor program. At the beginning, the student will propose to the Adviser an academic program based on the Proposal and Course Plan described above. The student will plan a set of courses that meets the student’s academic objectives and satisfies the requirements for the Minor.

Subsequent changes in the Course Plan or overall educational goals for the Minor must be approved by the Adviser.

The student must have prior approval of an internship or equivalent experience in order for it to satisfy the requirement for the Minor and the Adviser must approve the report on the internship or equivalent experience.

Students in the Whiting School of Engineering and the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences will have different Advisers. The Advisers are:

For Arts and Sciences:

Professor C.L. BennettDepartment of Physics and Astronomy
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Bloomberg 209
cbennett@jhu.edu

For Engineering:

Professor Joseph Katz
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Latrobe 219
jkatz@jhu.edu

If you have questions or suggestions about the Minor please direct them to the above faculty. If you wish to meet with either Professor Bennett or Professor Katz, please make an appointment by emailing the appropriate faculty member.


Checklist

A Degree Audit Checklist for students in both the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and in the Whiting School of Engineering can be obtained through the KSAS Undergraduate Academic Advising website.


Examples of Potential Programs

Below are examples of course programs that a student might propose. A student in the Minor must take Physics and Astronomy 171.321 Introduction to Space Science and Technology. In addition, the student will propose a program of four courses as discussed above. The courses usually will be drawn from the list in Section 6, but other courses may be used if appropriate.

Example 1

If the student is majoring in one of the engineering departments or programs and is interested in designing space missions for remote observations of the Earth or for planetary studies from space, the student might propose a four-course program drawn from the list below:

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences 270.220 The Dynamic Earth: An Introduction to Geology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences 270.224 Oceans and Atmospheres
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences 270.315 Natural Catastrophes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences 270.316 Planets
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences 270.318 Remote Sensing of the Environment
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences 270.325 Introductory Oceanography
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences 270.355 Introductory Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences 270.378 Present and Future Climate
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences 270.407 Seminar in Planetary Sciences (Taught by APL staff. One credit; additional course required to meet the 12-credit total requirement for the Minor.)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences 270.410 Planetary Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences 270.423 Planetary Atmospheres
  • Either Electrical Engineering 520.326 Introduction to Optical Instruments or Physics 171.411 Geometric and Physical Optics (Optical techniques are important for remote observations.)

Example 2

If student is majoring in physics and astronomy or in earth and planetary sciences and is interested in a better understanding of spacecraft design and attitude control for astronomy and remote sensing of the Earth from space, the student might propose a four-course program drawn from the list below:

  • Electrical and Computer Engineering 520.214 Signals and Systems
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering 520.401 Basic Communications
  • Mechanical Engineering 530.343 Design and Analysis of Dynamic Systems
  • Mechanical Engineering 530.418 Aerospace Structures and Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering 530.424 Dynamics of Robots and Spacecraft
  • Mechanical Engineering 530.425 Mechanics of Flight
  • Mechanical Engineering 530.432 Jet and Rocket Propulsion
  • Mechanical Engineering 530.435 Guidance and Control of Flight Vehicles
  • Mechanical Engineering 530.470 Space Vehicle Dynamics and Control

Example 3

An understanding of biology and its observable effects on a planet is likely to be important, both for better understanding our Earth, for the search for life on other planets (both solar and exosolar) and for the demands of the associated engineering tasks. A student interested in this area might propose the following program of four courses drawn from the list below:

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences 270.318 Remote Sensing of the Environment
  • Biology 020.305 Biochemistry
  • Biology 020.315 Biochemistry Laboratory
  • Biology 020.327 Molecular Biology of Extremophiles
  • Biology 020.329 The Microbial World
  • Biology 020.334 Planets, Life and the Universe
  • Geography & Environmental Engineering 570.328 Geography and Ecology of Plants

Example 4

An expanding area of interdisciplinary space research is understanding the properties of Exoplanets. A student might prepare for this area by proposing a four-course program of four courses based on a list combining the courses under Examples 1 and 3.

Example 5

Communication and data management are becoming critically important in space missions. As experiments become more and more capable, the transmitted data sets are becoming very large and complex. A four-course program drawn from the list below would strengthen a student’s knowledge in this area.

  • Applied Mathematics and Statistics 550.310 Probability and Statistics for the Physical and Information Sciences and Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics and Statistics 550.413 Applied Statistics and Data Analysis for the Physical and Information Sciences and Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics and Statistics 550.436 Data Mining
  • Computer Science 600.226 Data Structures
  • Computer Science 600.315/415 Database Systems
  • Computer Science 600.320/420 Parallel Programming
  • Computer Science 600.337/437 Distributed Systems
  • Computer Science 600.417 Data Streaming Processing
  • Computer Science 600.427 Data Organization: Storage and External Memory Systems
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering 520.214 Signals and Systems
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering 520.401 Basic Communications
  • Either Electrical and Computer Engineering 520.403 Introduction to Optical Instruments or Physics 171.411 Geometric and Physical Optics (included because of the possible importance of laser communications)

Suggested Undergraduate Courses Suitable for the Minor

Students are not restricted to this list, but it represents a good starting point for constructing the Proposal and Course Plan. Based on their advising experience, the director and co-director of the Minor, from time to time, may modify the list in cooperation with the oversight committee.


Whiting School of Engineering

Applied Mathematics and Statistics

  • 550.310 Probability and Statistics for the Physical and Information Sciences and Engineering
  • 550.361-362 Introduction to Optimization
  • 550.413 Applied Statistics and Data Analysis for the Physical and Information Sciences and Engineering
  • 550.436 Data Mining

Computer Science

  • 600.226 Data Structures
  • 600.315/415 Database Systems
  • 600.320/420 Parallel Programming
  • 600.337/437 Distributed Systems
  • 600.363/463 Introduction to Algorithms
  • 600.417 Data Streaming Processing
  • 600.427 Data Organization: Storage and External Memory Systems

Electrical and Computer Engineering

  • 520.214 Signals and Systems
  • 520.401 Basic Communications
  • 520.454 Control Systems Design
  • 520.403 Introduction to Optical Instruments
  • 520.487 Introduction to Microelectromechanical Systems
  • 520.495 Microfabrication Laboratory Colisted with 530.495 and 580.495

Material Sciences and Engineering

  • 510.201 Introduction to Engineering Materials
  • 510.418/618 Electronic and Photonic Processes & Devices
  • 510.405 Energy Engineering: Fundamentals and Future
  • 510.400 Introduction to Ceramics
  • 510.419 Physical Metallurgy

Mechanical Engineering

  • 530.231 Mechanical Engineering Thermodynamics
  • 530.327 Fluid Mechanics I
  • 530.328 Fluid Mechanics II
  • 530.343 Design and Analysis of Dynamic Systems
  • 530.418 Aerospace Structures and Materials
  • 530.424 Dynamics of Robots and Spacecraft
  • 530.425 Mechanics of Flight
  • 530.432 Jet and Rocket Propulsion
  • 530.435 Guidance and Control of Flight Vehicles
  • 530.470 Space Vehicle Dynamics and Control

Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Biology

  • 020.305 Biochemistry
  • 020.315 Biochemistry Laboratory
  • 020.327 Molecular Biology of Extremophiles
  • 020.329 The Microbial World
  • 020.334 Planets, Life, and the Universe

Earth and Planetary Sciences

  • 270.220 The Dynamic Earth: An Introduction to Geology
  • 270.224 Oceans and Atmospheres
  • 270.311 Geobiology
  • 270.313 Isotope Geochemistry
  • 270.315 Natural Catastrophes
  • 270.316 Planets
  • 270.318 Remote Sensing of the Environment
  • 270.325 Introductory Oceanography
  • 270.335 Planets, Life and the Universe
  • 270.355 Introductory Atmospheric Science
  • 270.378 Present and Future Climate
  • 270.407 Seminar in Planetary Sciences (one credit)
  • 270.410 Planetary Surface Processes
  • 270.423 Planetary Atmospheres
  • 270.425 Earth and Planetary Fluids

Physics and Astronomy

  • 171.201 Special Relativity and Waves
  • 171.207 Relativity (one credit, taught as part of 171.201)
  • 171.202 Modern Physics
  • 171.204 Classical Mechanics II
  • 171.313 Introduction to Stellar Physics
  • 171.314 Introduction to Galaxies and Active Galactic Nuclei
  • 171.333 Planets, Life, and the Universe
  • 171.411 Geometric and Physical Optics
  • 171.472/672 Plasma Physics

Oversight of the Minor

A standing oversight committee, currently comprised of the following faculty, performs the oversight of the Minor:

  • Professor Charles L. Bennett, Physics and Astronomy, Director of the Minor
  • Professor Timothy Heckman (committee chair), Chair of Physics and Astronomy Department
  • Professor Joseph Katz, Mechanical Engineering, Co-Director of the Minor
  • Professor James B. Spicer, Materials Science and Engineering
  • Professor Darryn W. Waugh, Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • Research Professor Harold (Hal) A. Weaver, Physics and Astronomy and Applied Physics Laboratory