Online Earth and Space Science

SES 106 - Habitable Worlds

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Are we alone in the Universe? If so, why? If not, where are our cosmic cousins? Such questions, once the domain of science fiction, are on the verge of being answered with science facts. Astronomers are discovering planets around other stars. Planetary scientists are exploring the worlds in our solar system. Biologists are unlocking the secrets of metabolism and evolution. Geoscientists are determining how the Earth supports life. And as we struggle to build a sustainable future for ourselves, all of us are finding out how technologically advanced civilizations rise and how they might fall.

Inspired by this ongoing scientific revolution, Habitable Worlds surveys key concepts from across the...

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Course prerequisites and requirements

To be successful in this course, we recommend English language fluency and computer literacy. We also encourage you to make sure your laptop or desktop computer meets the technical requirements.

MAT 170 is strongly suggested as a prerequisite for success in this course.

Quick facts

Next start date:

  • Credits: 4
  • Length: 15 weeks
  • Cost: $25 + $400

What you’ll learn

  • Explain the conditions that can make a planet habitable.
  • Identify and justify the steps necessary to determine if an exoplanet is habitable.
  • Describe the history of Earth as an inhabited world and how this knowledge informs the search for life on other worlds.
  • Describing and interpreting observations using data analysis, foundational mathmatics, and accessible computational methods.
  • Applying scientific reasoning, particularly using hypothesis-driven processes to create scientific models, testing models using basic qualitative and quantitative reasoning, choosing among competing ideas that have different levels of uncertainty.
  • Applying problem-solving skills including breaking complex problems into multiple steps, identifying the knowledge needed to solve each step, and obtaining and interpreting that knowledge quantitatively and qualitatively.

What to expect in class

Training Exercises, Assessment Exercises, The Project

Exams and grading




R*: Stars


fp: Planets


ne: Habitability


fl/fi: Life


fc/L: Survival


Project Habitable Hunt


Total points possible


This course appears on your transcript identically to how it appears on the transcript of an enrolled ASU student who has taken the course on one of ASU’s campuses.

This course satisfies 4 credit hours, including lab credit, toward the Natural Sciences (SQ) General Studies requirement at Arizona State University. It is strongly encouraged that you consult with your institution of choice to determine how these credits will be applied to their degree requirements prior to transferring the credit.

Faculty and course staff




President’s Professor

School of Earth and Space Exploration and School of Molecular Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Arizona State University




Instructional Professional

Arizona State University

Why take ASU Universal Learner Courses

  1. Credit you receive is from a regionally accredited university
  2. Your credit is highly transferable
  3. You only pay the $400 course cost if you pass

Related degrees

Online BS in Astronomical and Planetary Sciences

Online BS in Biological Sciences – Conservation Biology and Ecology

Online BS in Biological Sciences