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Compulsory for main focus geophysics: Geophysics of the solar system
Identification number

180 h

Term of studying
1. -3. Semester
Frequency of

Winter term

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

Aims of the module and acquired skills

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.


Contents of the module

  • 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
4 Teaching/Learning methods

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

Formal: None.

With regards to content: Basic knowledges in Classical mechanics, ordinary differential equations, Laplace equation in spherical coordinates.

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

Recommended Literature:

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.