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, 30 August 2018
Responsible department
Department of Physics and Astronomy

Entry requirements

120 credits with Mechanics III, Mathematical Methods of Physics and Electromagnetism II. Electromagnetic Field Theory is recommended.

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.

If there are special reasons for doing so, an examiner may make an exception from the method of assessment indicated and allow a student to be assessed by another method. An example of special reasons might be a certificate regarding special pedagogical support from the disability coordinator of the university.