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Specialisation Module: Geophysics of the Solar System
Identification number

180 h


1st - 3rd Semester
Offered Every



1 semester
1 Course types
a) Lecture
b) Exercis
Contact time
30 h
30 h
Private study
60 h
60 h
2 Module objectives and skills to be acquired

Students will get an overview of the planetary bodies in our solar system, their geophysical properties and interactions. Acquired skills are mathematical/geophysical tools to describe: global properties of planetary bodies, dynamical evolution of planetary bodies. Non-specific skills: Critical assessment of scientific knowledge.
3 Module content
  • Structure/Overview of the solar system
  • Formation of the solar system
  • Dynamics of the solar system:
    • Point masses and Kepler's laws
    • n-body problem
    • Dynamics on finite rigid bodies (e. g. precession and nutation)
    • Dynamics of non-rigid bodies (tidal interactions)
  • Internal structure of the planets
  • Planetary atmospheres
  • Planetary magnetic fields, their space plasma environments including aurorae
  • The sun
  • Minor bodies: Comets, asteroids, ...
  • Extra-solar solar planets
  • Coordinate systems and time
Beatty et al., The New Solar System, Sky Publishing Corporation and Cambridge University Press.
Advanced Literature: Baumjohann und Treumann, Basic Space Plasma Physics, Imperial College Press.
4 Teaching methods

Lectures and exercises
5 Prerequisites (for the module)

Formal: None.
The content of the course requires the undergraduate knowledge of mathematics, physics, especially in classical mechanics, ordinary differential equations, Laplace equation in spherical coordinates.
6 Type of examination

At the beginning of the lecture-free period, there is a 120 to 180-minute written examination, the content of which is the material from the lecture and exercises. Successful completion of the exercises is required for admission to the examination; for this, the acquisition of 50% of the points to be achieved is sufficient. A repeat examination is offered before or at the beginning of the following semester. The examination grade is the module grade. In the case of two passed examinations (see § 20 paragraph 10 examination regulations), the better grade is the module grade.
7 Credits awarded

The module is passed, and the credit points will be awarded, if the written examination is passed.
8 Compatibility with other curricula

Suitable as an elective course for physics students.
9 Proportion of final grade

Weight of the module grade in the overall grade: 6/150 (4 %)
10 Module coordinator

Joachim Saur
11 Further information

Version: 2023-03-23