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Super-Earths and Life

Learn about the Earth, life, and how we can search for life elsewhere in the universe.

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There is one session available:

128,551 already enrolled!
Starts Aug 17

Super-Earths and Life

Learn about the Earth, life, and how we can search for life elsewhere in the universe.

15 weeks
3–5 hours per week
Self-paced
Progress at your own speed
Free
Optional upgrade available

There is one session available:

128,551 already enrolled! After a course session ends, it will be archivedOpens in a new tab.
Starts Aug 17

About this course

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Are we alone in this universe? What new information and observations on exoplanets have we discovered?

In the past decade, astronomers have made incredible advances in the discovery of planets outside our solar system. Thirty years ago, we knew only of the planets in our own solar system. Now we know of thousands circling nearby stars.

Super-Earths and Life is a course about life on Earth, alien life, how we search for life outside of Earth, and what this teaches us about our place in the universe.

Meanwhile, biologists have gained a strong understanding of how life evolved on our own planet, all the way back to the earliest cells. We can describe how simple molecules can assemble themselves into the building blocks of life, and how those building blocks might have become the cells that make up our bodies today.

Super-Earths and Life is all about how these fields, astronomy and biology, together with geology, can help answer one of our most powerful and primal questions: are we alone?

At a glance

  • Institution: HarvardX
  • Subject: Physics
  • Level: Introductory
  • Prerequisites:

    Basic algebra

  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English

What you'll learn

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  • How life may have arisen on Earth
  • How we discover planets around other stars
  • What makes a planet favorable for life
  • How we search for life in our universe

This course consists of seven modules, which investigate questions like:

  • What is life? How did it arise? How does it change over time?
  • What is a planet?
  • How do we find and learn about planets outside our solar system?
  • How has the Earth changed over time? What do these changes mean for the evolution and survival of living things?
  • How do geological processes shape planets? How do these processes contribute to life?
  • How many habitable planets are there?
  • How can we search for life?

Learner testimonials

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Amazing course. It gives a strong foundation on how life might have arisenon Earth, and how to look for other habitable planets in the universe.

This is a good introduction to astrobiology, with sections on life on Earth and the search for extrasolar planets, and how these two subjects come together to determine how we might look for life on other planets. The content is clear and informative, and the instructors are knowledgeable and engaging (including the guest lecturers).

About the instructors

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