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Compulsory for main focus geophysics: Space Physics
Identification number

180 h

Term of studying
1. -3. Semester
Frequency of

Summer term

1 semester
1 Type of lessons
a) Lectures
b) Exercise
Contact times
45 h
30 h
Self-study times
45 h
60 h
Intended group size

Aims of the module and acquired skills

Understanding the space environment around the earth, other planetary bodies and the solar wind. Understanding basic properties of space plasmas including their mathematical/physical descriptions.

The acquired skills are the applications of mathematical/physical tools from statistical mechanics and fluid dynamics as applied to plasmas. Derivations of the plasma descriptions from first principles.

Non-specific skills: Critical assessment of scientific knowledge.


Contents of the module

  • Introduction into space plasmas
  • Single particle dynamics
  • Kinetic theory (Boltzmann and Vlasow equation)
  • Derivation of magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) equations
  • Properties of MHD fluids
  • Waves in plasmas
  • Shocks and discontinuities
  • Instabilities
  • Magnetospheres, solar wind, aurorae
4 Teaching/Learning methods

Lectures and exercises (exercises require attendance)
5 Requirements for participation

Formal: None.

With regards to content: Classical mechanics, electro-magnetism, basics of statistical mechanics

Type of module examinations

Written Examination (graded)

7 Requisites for the allocation of credits

Successful participation in the exercises (50 % of the possible points have to be obtained) and passing of the examination.

At the end of the semester or the beginning of the following semester a possibility to repeat the examination is offered. A failed examination may be repeated twice. Additional possibilities to repeat an examination exist according to the examination regulations (§ 20 section 1).

Assessments which have been passed are not allowed to be taken again, with one exception: If at the end of a module which consists of a lecture and tutorial classes, the student takes the assessment at the first available date after having received admission to the module exam, he/she is then allowed to take the examination again at the next available date for the purpose of improving the grade, even if he/she passed the assessment the first time – in this case, the better of the two grades will count towards the final degree grade (§ 20 section 9).

The module mark is the grade obtained in the assessment. In the case of two passed assessments the module mark is the better grade
8 Compatibility with other Curricula
  • Other modules of equal value can be admitted and announced by the examination board after agreement.
  • Suitable as an elective course for mathematics, physics and geoscience students
9 Significance of the module mark for the overall grade

10 Module coordinator

J. Saur
11 Additional information

Required Literature:

Baumjohann und Treumann, Basic Space Plasma Physics, Imperial College Press

Additional Literature:

Chen, Introduction to Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion, Plenum Press.
Kivelson & Russell, Introduction to Space Physics, Cambridge Univ. Press.
Treumann und Baumjohann, Advanced Space Plasma Physics, Imperial College Press.