Space Physics

5 credits

Syllabus, Master's level, 1FA255

A revised version of the syllabus is available.
Education cycle
Second cycle
Main field(s) of study and in-depth level
Physics A1N, Technology A1N
Grading system
Pass with distinction, Pass with credit, Pass, Fail
Finalised by
The Faculty Board of Science and Technology, 28 January 2010
Responsible department
Department of Physics and Astronomy

Entry requirements

120 credits with Mechanics III, Mathematical methods of physics or similar. Electromagnetic field theory is recommended.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Assess the suitability of various orbits and launchers for a given space mission.
  • Use adequate terminology for the principal plasma environments of the solar system and the phenomena occurring in them.
  • Qualitatively assess radiation risks for various orbits.
  • Assess the risk for space weather problems from solar, solar wind, and magnetospheric data.
  • Use the concepts adiabatic invariance, magnetic mirroring and pitch angle to calculate trajectories of charged particles in magnetic fields.
  • Use the concept of frozen-in magnetic field lines, and assess its validity in a given case.
  • Perform thermal balance calculations for idealised spacecraft.


Space plasmas and magnetic fields. Solar radiation, the solar atmosphere, solar activity, the solar wind, the heliosphere, solar sailing. 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. Space plasma dynamics in magnetohydrodynamics and two-fluid theory. Magnetospheric dynamics, geomagnetic storms, substorms, space weather. The rocket principle, motion in central fields, satellite orbits, interplanetary trajectories. Spacecraft thermal and electrical interaction with the space environment, ion engines.


Lectures and Lessons


Written examinations after the course. Compulsory assignments may also occur.