Planetary science trips

This information is correct for semester 2 2022. In 2023, we may be visiting different destinations; please check back closer to the time to find out which ones.
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Students in EMSC3022/EMSC6022 will participate in a number of evening and day trips to learn about different aspects of Planetary Science. Typically, we will visit Mt Stromlo (night sky viewing), UNSW-Canberra (Impact Dynamics Research Laboratory) and field sites in the Canberra region (Martian analog field sites). During these visits, students will make observations that will be used in the assessments and have the opportunity to ask practicing planetary scientists about their work and career.

Interested in participating? Read on.

Participating in trips can be a highlight of your university experience; however, it is also important to think carefully about whether it is the right decision for you at this point in time. This page is to help you understand what the trip involves, so that you can make an informed decision. The information is accurate to the best of our ability; however, please be aware that trip plans can change at the last minute. If this may cause issues for you or you need additional information, please talk to the course convenor.

How we can help you participate

For most of our trips, there are lots of options for flexibility that may make it easier for you to take part. This page will tell you about some of them.  Keep in mind, it is not possible for us to anticipate every individual circumstance, so please contact the course convenor if you have other ideas for how we could help you participate. If you would like support discussing your needs with the course convenor or if your discussion didn't go as you expected, please contact the school accessibility contact.

How to participate?

Any students who meet the prerequisites can enrol in one of the courses and participate in the trips.

If you can't participate

Students who cannot participate in the trips will be able to negotiate alternative participation and assessment requirements with the course convenor. If you may require this, please discuss with the course convenor during week 1.


Activity sites: telescope dome, research laboratories and field visits

We will be visiting a range of indoor and outdoor locations. During the evening observing trip to Mt Stromlo, we typically experience cold weather and we can experience a range of weather conditions while visiting the field analog sites. All other locations are indoors. All locations in Canberra have toilets nearby.  The field trip in the Canberra region will include toilet stops.  

To participate in the trip to the field analog sites near Canberra, students must safely traverse from the nearest vehicle access to the location of the field activities. Based on the current plans for the trips, this includes traveling up to 200m at a time through grassy vegetation or over rocky outcrops.

The evening trip to Mt Stromlo requires students to traverse on paved surfaces in the dark and enter a partially enclosed telescope dome. The trip to UNSW Canberra will require students to traverse normal workplace surfaces and avoid touching scientific equipment.

If you have accessibility requirements or may have issues with some of the trips, please talk to the convener.  We can work out ways for you to participate as much as possible.


Travel: bus or mini-van 

The university will arrange transport by mini-van or bus dependent on the student numbers.  Students will be expected to leave and return from/to the Research School of Earth Sciences.  If you need accessible transport, please talk to the convenor at least two weeks prior to the trip so that we have time to organise this.

Food: bring your own 

Students will be required to bring their own food on the trip.  Students with severe allergies to other people's food should notify the convenor who will request that others do not bring that kind of food on the trip.

Cost: $25 

The cost of each trip is anticipated to be $25 at most, payable to Science Shop. This will be confirmed to students via the course Wattle site in week 1.

Health & wellbeing

Look after yourself: laboratory hazards

During the trips to UNSW Canberra and ANU Research Laboratories (not visited 2020) we will be visiting working laboratories containing hazardous materials.  We strongly encourage students with a medical condition or disability that may impact their safety (e.g. epilepsy, allergies) to discuss this with the course convener.

Look out for each other: respecting guests and other students

Students must act in a professional, respectful and responsible way at all times during the activity. The owners of the field sites we visit have often generously made time to show us around and it is crucial that all students behave in a manner that reflects this. Students who do not meet these expectations will be asked to leave. If you are unsure about the expectations or think your behaviour might be misinterpreted, please talk to the course convenor. We can clarify the expectations and work with you to ensure the any stakeholders we encounter aren't inadvertently left with the wrong impression.

Workload: different for each trip

The evening trip to Mt Stromlo occurs at night (3 hrs) to view the planets and stars.  We time this activity based on when the sun sets and the planets rise.  Please come prepared for cold weather. The group will leave Canberra in the morning and return in the evening, with students providing their own food for the lunch break.  The trip will involve touring around specific sites.  

For the field analog site trip around the Canberra region, the group will leave RSES in the morning and returning in the evening, with students providing their own food for the lunch break.  The trip will involve touring around specific sites.  The field analog site trip involves traversing rough ground.

The UNSW Canberra will be a short trip less than 3 hours in duration with transport to/from RSES.

There are some options for students to sit out particular activities and complete alternative assignments instead.  Please discuss the options before signing up to attend the trip.

Clothes: different for each trip

For the evening trip to Mt Stromlo warm clothing is recommended because students will be outside or in a partially covered telescope dome.

For the trip to field analog sites, sturdy shoes, sunscreen and a hat are recommended.

Tasks & activities

Interpreting the visual features of the environment

During the field trip, students will apply the knowledge learnt in class to observe and interpret visual features in the environment.  Students can use magnifying equipment to enhance their ability to make visual observations.  If students require visual features to be described to them by someone else, they must discuss this with the course convener prior to the trip.

Using equipment during activities

Some tasks in this course may involve reaching (e.g. look through the eyepiece of a microscope or telescope), manipulating objects to undertake an in-class exercise (e.g., drawing ellipses with pin tacks, analysing rocks with a spectrometer), making observations of scientific equipment and natural features (rocks, landscapes).  

Students that find it difficult to complete these tasks can be assisted by others in the group - please discuss this with the course convenor during week 1 of semester.  

Field presentations and discussions

Students will be required to participate in discussions in a variety of forms (including small group discussions) in the lectures, tutorial and on trips.  Students will also be required to give a poster presentation.   If you think that you may have difficulty doing this, please discuss this with the course convener so we can put a plan in place to help you (e.g. video of the presentation).

Flexible field notes

Students may be required to take handwritten field notes and/or record data while working in the field. If you think that you may be unable to do this, please talk to the course convenor about alternatives (e.g., using an electronic device, recording verbal observations to write up later).

Conducting internet research

Students are required to find information on the internet in some of the tutorial exercises.  Students will be notified in advance and computers will be available to those who do not have them.