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How To Become A Planetary Scientist

By David Krug 13 minute read

For the study of planets and their planetary systems, the field of planetary science is called planetary science. It examines the formation, composition, dynamics, and history of these celestial bodies, as well as their interactions with one another. It is not uncommon for students to study topics such as exoplanetology and oceanography as well as planetary geology and atmospheric science while pursuing a degree in this field. Studies in Earth Science are conducted on the planet itself.

A subfield of planetology is Earth science. The lithosphere (the earth’s outermost shell), the biosphere (the planet’s ecosystems), the atmosphere (the gases that surround and insulate the earth), and the hydrosphere (the planet’s water) are all subbranches of this branch (the water on, above, and under the earth). These spheres are studied in depth by students in this field, who study physics, chemistry, biology, history, geography, and advanced mathematics.

This field has many different specializations, focus areas and distinct career paths for students to choose from. First, let’s take a look at how planetary science (and eventually Earth science) got their start in human history. We’ll get into some of those later.

Worship of planetary deities was widespread among the ancient Mesopotamian Babylonians (3500–3200 BCE) and Sumerians (3500–3200 BCE). There was a lot of attention paid to a group of stars known as the “Ziqpu stars.” To keep track of the passing of time, angles, and star positions, they used a system of numerals that had been handed down to them from the Sumerians. Predictions about planetary systems continued to be made into the 8th and 7th centuries BCE. The Greeks benefited from what these earlier civilizations had learned.

There are numerous references to stars and constellations like Orion, the Pleiades, Sirius, the Ursa Major, and many others in Greek literature from ancient times. Incredible to think that the same constellations and existential astrological questions that we grapple with today were being discussed thousands of years before we were born. The constellations mentioned above appear in both Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey.”

Hesiod was a Greek poet of Homer’s time and a direct descendant (approximately between 750 and 650 BCE). Individual stars in the night sky were used by Hesiod to determine what work should be done on his farm or if it was safe to sail. Aristotle, in the third century BCE, was using geometry to calculate lunar eclipses, the circumference of the Earth, and other things.

Democritus was also discovering that the universe is composed of atoms at the same time. Hippolytus, the theologian, claims that he also said the following:

Some of the ordered worlds are boundless and differ in size, while others contain both sun and moon, which are larger and more numerous than they are in our own solar system. There is also an unequal distribution of time between the ordered worlds, with some taking longer to form and others taking longer to decay, with some appearing first and others being overshadowed. However, they are obliterated in a single collision. As well as that some well-ordered worlds are completely devoid of life and water.

Galileo was an influential ancient astronomer who discovered the four largest moons of Jupiter, Saturn’s rings, the mountains of the moon, and many other things. Aside from his assertion that our solar system revolved around the sun, Galileo was condemned by the Catholic Church for his heretical contributions to science. Regardless, his discoveries and methods forever altered the fields of physics, astronomy, the scientific method, and, of course, planetary and earth science. He was a true trailblazer.

Over the next few centuries, both earth science and planetary science underwent radical transformations. Space agencies, academic departments, and private organizations all over the world employ scientists who have earned advanced degrees in these fields, making them one of the most fascinating and diverse groups of scientific disciplines. To better understand and observe their physical properties and relationships to one another, these scientists perform a variety of vital and essential work.

Many of these professions require advanced degrees in math and science, as well as a commitment to hard work and brilliance. Contributions from you could have a significant impact on how we view our place in space, how we interact with our environment and much more.

Learn more about planetary and earth science degrees in this comprehensive guide, which examines the various levels of study and focuses on specializations in the field. Our goal is to assist you in your pursuit of a degree by examining related degrees, employment, and earnings in these fields. Be sure to keep these things in mind as you pursue your academic goals:

When it comes to your education, what are your current credentials? As a planetary or earth scientist, how does your prior education fit into your current position?

Is your math and science ability strong? To do well in these subjects, you’ll have to put in a lot of time and effort.

What do you hope to accomplish in this field? Would you be interested in working with space agencies, educational institutions, private companies, or other organizations on important research involving the direct measurement of planets’ bodies?

How are these goals supported and reinforced by specific programs?

Earth science and planetary science degrees can cost how much?

Take public loans over private ones if you must take out student loans to pay for your education.

If you can afford it, look for non-profit, highly rated, and properly accredited schools.

How many hours a day, week, and year can you devote to your degree before you earn it?

No, I’m unemployed. In order to pursue a degree in planet or earth science, will you be required to give up your current job?

Full-time, part-time, online or a combination of on-campus and online learning is the best option for you. However, you can save money and time by taking online courses for many of these programs.

Examine the course of study for any degree program that interests you. In what ways can its programs help you get closer to your career objectives?

What kinds of programs in earth and planetary sciences can help you succeed in the workplace? What can they do to help you hone your strengths and make progress in your areas of weakness?

When you finish school, where do you envision yourself residing and finding a job? There are some areas where planetary or earth scientists are more in demand than others.

What specializations or focus areas do you want to pursue in these fields? Is there a specialization in these areas available in the program you’re considering?

Some of the things to keep in mind when deciding on a degree program include these questions and concerns. It’s a good idea to answer these questions for any school or degree program that you’re considering, and don’t forget to include any additional considerations that you think should be included.

When it comes to planetary and earth science, here are some essentials to look out for:

Degrees in Earth and Space Sciences Require and Improve:

Astronomy professionals frequently have to compare and contrast the atmospheres of different planets and other celestial bodies. In the search for planets that share some of the physical and atmospheric characteristics of Earth or that could support life, there is a constant focus.

If you’ve previously struggled with a particular area of science or math, you’ll likely need to re-learn it. To be a successful scientist in this field, you need to be able to work across a wide range of disciplines, so consider whether you’re capable of learning new ones.

Many of the organizations you’ll work for are highly hierarchical and bureaucratic. You’ll need to be self-disciplined, able to follow orders, and able to recognize when passion projects have to be put on the back burner. If you end up working for a space agency or the federal government, this will be especially relevant.

Skills in computer science are in high demand in these fields because so much of the work is done digitally. Programming skills and proficiency with various software will put you in an excellent position to begin your career .’s.

Working in earth and planetary science necessitates strong communication skills. To get started, you’ll need to secure funding, get your ideas approved, and enlist the assistance of scientists who have expertise in areas where you lack it.

You’ll need to be able to think critically and analytically in order to solve problems that have stumped others in the past, both in school and in the workplace. As a scientist or researcher, you’ll need to constantly improve your observational, critical-thinking, data-processing, and results-producing abilities.

Incredible Willpower: You will be put to the test in many ways in this difficult field. Some of the most brilliant people on Earth will be competing with you for your attention, as well as challenging issues and questions that have stumped those who came before you or that have yet to be faced.

These are just a few of the skills you’ll learn in degree programs in planetary and earth science and how you’ll improve them. If you’d like to see what we’ve done so far, here are some examples:

Is There Any Way We Can Assist You in Your Search for the Right Earth and Space Science Degree?

Our goal at Degree Query is to provide you with as many tools as possible to make your search for a degree program and a fulfilling career a little bit less stressful. We’ve written guides like this one, focusing on available degrees and jobs that can change your life, as well as many other types of information. We’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions, and we’ve even created a career comparison matrix to help you figure out which path is best for your situation.

Just a sample of what we’ve done in terms of planetary science degrees and careers.

Taking a closer look at the various levels of education available in these areas, we arrive at:

What are the various levels of education in Earth and space sciences?

Astronomers and planetary scientists

It takes two years to complete one of these degrees. After completing your general education requirements, you’ll move on to study science fundamentals. Your diploma will include transferable credits that can be used toward a Bachelor’s degree. Many of these programs can be found at community or junior colleges, either in person or online. As a result, many two-year colleges have transfer agreements with four-year institutions, making it easy for students to continue their education. Advanced math, physics, chemistry, and other sciences will likely begin to make sense as you learn about the Earth, the stars, space, other planets, and the details of all of the above. Graduates who want to work in these fields will have to go back to school.

Bachelors in Planetary and Earth Science

While studying Planetary or Earth Science, you’ll have many choices. Degrees in Earth Science can be found in a variety of specializations, as can degrees in related fields. A Bachelor’s degree in Oceanography, Geology, or another field of study is one possibility. Some programs in Planetary Science will prepare you to work for space programs, companies like Lockheed Martin, and telescope institutes. See what businesses and organizations an institution has collaborated with when deciding on a Bachelor’s degree program. Studying in Florida, for example, will put you in close proximity to some of the industry’s most prestigious organizations. An internship at NASA or Harris Corporation can have a long-term impact on your career. The majority of Earth and Planetary Science graduates go on to earn a Master’s degree or higher.

Astronomy and Earth Science Master’s degree

The average length of time to complete one of these programs is two years. As an undergraduate, you may study topics such as quantum mechanics and relativity; geology, hydrology; astronomy and extragalactic observation; computational methods; electrodynamics; and radiative processes. Students may have the opportunity to work with state-of-the-art equipment in the classroom and in the lab as part of many programs. A solid foundation in computer science is a must. Students will learn the fundamentals of research and conduct vital, independent research. In addition, you’ll improve your writing and verbal communication abilities. Many of these programs culminate in a capstone project or thesis defense in which you demonstrate the skills and knowledge you’ve gained throughout your education.

Earth and space science doctorates

To obtain a doctorate in earth or planetary science, you’ll need to enroll here for a period of three to seven years. You’ll learn everything you need to know about the structure and composition of planets, the universe, and specific regions of the Earth. For front-line research and problem solving, you will use advanced analytical and computational techniques. For this course, you’ll demonstrate your expertise in peer-reviewed research by submitting a significant, original piece of work to a journal in your field. You’ll put your scientific communication skills to the test like you’ve never had before. Research and academic careers as well as executive positions at private and public sector companies and government agencies are all options. Postdoctoral research may also be an option if you’re looking to break into a highly competitive field in which you have a particular interest.

Astronomy and Planetary Science has many different subfields.

Control and Planning for Space Missions

Scientists and professionals from all walks of life work together to plan, design, and oversee space missions. The majority of these experts are trained in metallurgists, mechanical or electrical engineers, as well as planetary and earth sciences. To demonstrate their expertise, they’ve completed relevant postdoctoral research in fields like advanced mathematics and physics.


Learn about the origins and evolution of life on every continent and in every corner of the cosmos. Carbon compounds and proteins are two of the building blocks of life, so you could look for planets that could sustain life by searching for them (as far as we know). You can use what you’ve learned to learn more about the origins of our planet and the future of life on it. These experts studied astrology, earth science, and planetary science in conjunction with biochemistry or biophysics.


Earth’s major features are studied by geologists. In addition to studying how rocks and land are formed, humans can better utilize the earth’s resources, and how solid materials are decomposed both naturally and unnaturally, among other things.


Oceans make up 70% of our planet’s surface area. Climate change poses a grave threat to these regions, and their ecosystems are rapidly shifting. Measure and influence these crises are at the heart of these specializations. Additionally, you’ll make use of cutting-edge technology to reach areas of these environments that have previously been inaccessible.


There are a wide range of engineering disciplines, including mechanical, electrical, computer and aerospace engineering. By learning how to design and implement practical solutions, this is a great way to get started in these fields. You’ll learn how to use the tangible things you make to aid important missions, research, and observation. Your engineering skills can be further developed if you study earth and planetary science in conjunction with one of these degrees.

If you’re looking for something a little more specialized, you’ll find plenty of options in these broad fields.

Earth and planetary science graduates have a wide range of potential earnings and employment options, so let’s take a look at those before we leave.

Degrees in Planetary and Earth Sciences as a Whole

Earth and planetary science have a lot to offer, and we hope that this guide has helped you see some of those possibilities. In the hope that you’ve made a decision about whether or not one of these disciplines is right for you, you’ve learned more about what you’ll need to succeed. There is so much to learn and do in the fields of planetary and Earth sciences. No matter where you end up, you’ll be doing interesting work in challenging roles.

Creating experiments, sharing knowledge, and working on projects that have a direct impact on our planet and universe are the most important things we can do..

Which of these professions will pay the most? Job growth can be found in where? According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, a degree in Earth or Planetary Science can lead to a wide range of career options. People with these degrees can find work all over the world, so keep that in mind when looking at these numbers.

When working with matter and energy as they interact, physics and astronomy majors will get to do everything from observe to experiment to shape the future of science. These positions paid an average of $119,580 per year in 2018.

Between 2018 and 2028, the number of these jobs was projected at 21,600, which would increase by 9%, creating 1,900 new positions.

These positions typically required a doctorate degree for entry-level positions. Getting a bachelor’s degree in physics and then getting a job as a physicist is one way to get started in the field.

In this course, you will learn about the earth’s physicality in a wide variety of ways. In 2018, there were 31,000 of these jobs, which were predicted to grow by 6% between 2018 and 2018, creating 1,800 new positions.

Annually, the average salary in 2018 was $91,130 and a typical entry-level education was a Bachelor’s degree, although additional degrees are frequently required.

Scientists in the fields of weather and space People who work in these positions conduct research, analyze weather data, and write reports on their findings. This may or may not fall under the umbrella of meteorology or weather forecasting.

In May of this year, there were 9,310 people employed in these positions. Their average salary was $95,580 per year.

Engineers in the field of aerospace You’ll design a wide range of aircraft, missiles, satellites, and more in these unusual positions.

At the end of 2018, there were 67,200 of them. This was predicted to increase by 2% between 2018-28, creating 1,100 new jobs.

The average yearly salary for these positions in 2018 was $115,220.

That’s all there is to it. The best of luck to you in your studies and work!

David Krug