Astrophysics or planetary science?

In summary, if you want to research biomarkers in other planets, you should study astrophysics or earth&planetary science. If you're interested in a research-based masters, you should look at programs that have recent students working on biomarker-related projects. Finally, make sure you have the necessary mathematics and physics background before enrolling in a physics program.
  • #1
veil
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Hi

I am a computer science undergraduate working as a data scientist. I generally love studying physics and planetary science. I am aspiring to research in biomarkers and bio signatures in planets. If I have to choose this research path should I study masters in, astrophysics or earth&planetary science or Geoinformatics? Since recent hypothesised biomarker found in Venus was identified through a telescope, I included the option astronomy and astrophysics as well.
 
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  • #2
Often a good place to start is drilling down into the details of the coursework. If for example, you enroll in an astrophysics degree that requires you to take graduate level electrodynamics and quantum mechanics, are you you going to be happy? Further, (assuming you're looking at a research-based masters) look at what projects recent students in each program are working on. Once you've found a program that looks interesting, it doesn't hurt to contact the department or even specific professors, explain your interests and see whether you could expect a project involving biomarkers for extra-terrestrial life.

Also, of your proposed paths, you might want to look at which ones you're actually qualified to get into. Typically someone with a computer science background would not have all the prerequisite coursework to get into an astrophysics graduate program. So if you do decide that is the route for you, you might have some undergraduate coursework to do. It can also help to talk to an academic advisor in this context.
 
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  • #3
Choppy said:
Often a good place to start is drilling down into the details of the coursework. If for example, you enroll in an astrophysics degree that requires you to take graduate level electrodynamics and quantum mechanics, are you you going to be happy? Further, (assuming you're looking at a research-based masters) look at what projects recent students in each program are working on. Once you've found a program that looks interesting, it doesn't hurt to contact the department or even specific professors, explain your interests and see whether you could expect a project involving biomarkers for extra-terrestrial life.

Also, of your proposed paths, you might want to look at which ones you're actually qualified to get into. Typically someone with a computer science background would not have all the prerequisite coursework to get into an astrophysics graduate program. So if you do decide that is the route for you, you might have some undergraduate coursework to do. It can also help to talk to an academic advisor in this context.
Thank you choppy.
 
  • #4
Besides all these, I would like to know how people from non physics background do well in any physics program and also their job/research prospects. Is there any statistics available(I did my own googling, but nothing to find)... If there are any experts, please share your opinion ...
 
  • #5
For statistics on physics graduates and the job market you can always check out:
https://www.aip.org/statistics/employment

As to how to do well coming into a physics program if you haven't had any training in physics, everyone has to find their own path, but a few tips I can think of:
  • Make sure you complete necessary prerequisite coursework for any course you intend to take. One of the bigger mistakes I see is that students can sometimes fall victim to their own ambition and get into courses that are way over their heads. In those cases it's a race from the beginning just to stay afloat.
  • Also make sure you have the necessary mathematics under your belt too. And really work with it as much as you can. Students who learn how to do the math for a test, but don't really develop a deep understanding of it, often struggle when later courses assume that you know hot to apply it.
  • Full engagement. I've known a few students who've come into physics from other fields. The ones who've been really successful were 100% engaged in what they were doing. They didn't just stop when assignments were done, they were looking to get involved in research not because it was necessary to get into grad school but because research was cool. This also means going to department colloquia, reading independently, and taking on your own projects.
  • Make full use of your school's academic resources. More specifically, talk with your academic advisor. If there's an optimal order to take courses in at your school this person can tell you. That person can also help with separating the "would be nice" courses from the "must haves."
  • Go to professor office hours and don't be afraid to ask questions. Make sure you put in the prep time so you're not over-burdening your professor with basic facts you should already know, but ultimately avoid spinning your wheels for too long if you get stuck.
  • Build your physics network. Make friends with other physics students who have similar interests and ambitions. It also doesn't hurt to seek out mentors - graduate students or post-docs, or even senior undergrads who you can go to with questions. And sometimes you can find that the best learning happens when you're just spit-balling ideas.
 
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  • #6
Choppy said:
For statistics on physics graduates and the job market you can always check out:
https://www.aip.org/statistics/employment

As to how to do well coming into a physics program if you haven't had any training in physics, everyone has to find their own path, but a few tips I can think of:
  • Make sure you complete necessary prerequisite coursework for any course you intend to take. One of the bigger mistakes I see is that students can sometimes fall victim to their own ambition and get into courses that are way over their heads. In those cases it's a race from the beginning just to stay afloat.
  • Also make sure you have the necessary mathematics under your belt too. And really work with it as much as you can. Students who learn how to do the math for a test, but don't really develop a deep understanding of it, often struggle when later courses assume that you know hot to apply it.
  • Full engagement. I've known a few students who've come into physics from other fields. The ones who've been really successful were 100% engaged in what they were doing. They didn't just stop when assignments were done, they were looking to get involved in research not because it was necessary to get into grad school but because research was cool. This also means going to department colloquia, reading independently, and taking on your own projects.
  • Make full use of your school's academic resources. More specifically, talk with your academic advisor. If there's an optimal order to take courses in at your school this person can tell you. That person can also help with separating the "would be nice" courses from the "must haves."
  • Go to professor office hours and don't be afraid to ask questions. Make sure you put in the prep time so you're not over-burdening your professor with basic facts you should already know, but ultimately avoid spinning your wheels for too long if you get stuck.
  • Build your physics network. Make friends with other physics students who have similar interests and ambitions. It also doesn't hurt to seek out mentors - graduate students or post-docs, or even senior undergrads who you can go to with questions. And sometimes you can find that the best learning happens when you're just spit-balling ideas.
Thanks once again for the detailed advise ! :)
 
  • #7
You should also consider biochemistry. What you want is to find a program that has professors interested in the topic.

I do not know the details of the specialty, but I would assume that taking organic chemistry as an undergraduate would be a good idea. You need to learn the language.
 
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  • #8
Given your aspiration, I would rank the options in order of applicability

Earth & Planetary Sciences, Geomatics, Astrophysics.

In Geomatics, you would probably be studying the Earth, mainly, or Earth Moon system more than the other planets. On the bright side, I see more jobs in this field Geomatics than the others. This is understandable since most scientists live on the Earth, and the Earth affects us most.

In terms of mathematical demand on the student/researcher, I would place the order:
Astrophysics, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Geomatics. Astrophysics is more mathematical demanding on an abstract level.

With some exceptions we have different provinces of study:
Astrophysics : Galaxies, Nebula; the Universe etc.,
Earth/Planetary Sciences: Earth, Sun, Solar System Planets, Radiation Belts, Space Plasmas, maybe OORT cloud
Geomatics: Earth, Geodesy, Moon.
 
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Related to Astrophysics or planetary science?

1. What is astrophysics?

Astrophysics is a branch of science that studies the physical properties and processes of celestial objects, such as stars, galaxies, and planets. It combines principles from physics, astronomy, and mathematics to understand the behavior and evolution of these objects.

2. What is planetary science?

Planetary science is the study of planets, moons, and other objects in our solar system and beyond. It involves understanding their formation, composition, structure, and dynamics, as well as their interactions with other objects in space.

3. How are astrophysics and planetary science related?

Astrophysics and planetary science are closely related fields, as they both involve the study of objects in space. However, astrophysics focuses more on the physical properties and processes of objects, while planetary science is more concerned with the specific characteristics and behavior of planets and other bodies in our solar system.

4. What are some common research topics in astrophysics and planetary science?

Some common research topics in these fields include the formation and evolution of stars and planets, the search for habitable exoplanets, the study of planetary atmospheres and geology, and the exploration of the origins of the universe.

5. What are some practical applications of astrophysics and planetary science?

Astrophysics and planetary science have many practical applications, including the development of new technologies for space exploration, the study of climate change and its effects on Earth, and the search for resources and potential habitats on other planets. They also contribute to our understanding of the universe and our place in it.

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