Master’s studies

Syllabus for Space Physics



  • 5 credits
  • Course code: 1FA255
  • Education cycle: Second cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: Physics A1N, Technology A1N
  • Grading system: Fail (U), 3, 4, 5
  • Established: 2010-01-28
  • Established by: The Faculty Board of Science and Technology
  • Revised: 2018-02-19
  • Revised by: The Faculty Board of Science and Technology
  • Applies from: week 30, 2018
  • Entry requirements: 120 credits with Mechanics III, Mathematical Methods of Physics and Electromagnetism II. Electromagnetic Field Theory is recommended.
  • Responsible department: Department of Physics and Astronomy

Learning outcomes

On completion of the course, the student should be able to:

  • use the concepts adiabatic invariance, magnetic mirroring and pitch angle to calculate trajectories of charged particles in magnetic fields.
  • use basic magnetohydrodynamic calculations and models to describe and analyse fundamental plasma phenomena in the solar system.
  • use the concept of frozen-in magnetic field lines and assess its validity in a given case.
  • use adequate terminology for the principal plasma environments of the solar system and the phenomena occurring in them, and also for spacecraft and their motion around planets and in the solar system.
  • perform thermal balance calculations for idealised spacecraft.
  • perform fundamental calculations on spacecraft trajectories in central fields.
  • assess the risk for space weather problems from solar, solar wind, and magnetospheric data.


Space plasmas and magnetic fields. Solar radiation, the solar atmosphere, solar activity, the solar wind, the heliosphere. Motion of charged particles in magnetic fields. The magnetospheres, radiation belts, ionospheres and plasmaspheres of the Earth and other planetary system bodies. Shock waves and boundary layers, the cellular structure of space. Basic magnetohydrodynamics and its application to space plasmas. Magnetospheric dynamics, geomagnetic storms, substorms, space weather. The rocket principle, motion in central fields, satellite orbits, interplanetary trajectories. Spacecraft interaction with the space environment.


Lectures and Lessons


Written examination with optional tests during the course that may replace part of the final examination. The results from the optional tests can be used at the regular exam and the first re-examination.

Reading list

Reading list

Applies from: week 03, 2018

All course matter will be handed out during the course.

  • Rönnmark, Kjell Space Physics from the Sun to the Aurora