Space Science

course ID





14 Weeks

Semester DD


Course details

Course Content:

Physics of the Earth’s space environment: Ionosphere (Structure, generation, simple model and anomalies, perturbations); Magnetosphere (Geomagnetic field, interaction of the solar wind with the Earth's magnetic field, magnetosphere formation, magnetopause, geomagnetic tail, solar activity and magnetic perturbations on the ground, sub-storm, magnetic storm.); Motion of charged particles in a magnetic field; Van Allen Belts; Basics of low density magnetized plasma physics; Thermosphere

Fundamentals of Astrodynamics: Launch vehicles and propulsion (Tsiolkovsky equation, impulse, multi stage rockets, propulsion systems); Keplerian Orbits (generalities on orbits, equation of satellite motion, motion constants, perturbations, influence sphere); Orbital Maneuvers (1 or 2 impulse maneuvers, Hohmann maneuver, Orbital plane variation, Rendez-vous); Interplanetary missions’ concepts (patched-conics approximation, gravity assist maneuvers)

Spacecraft payload instrumentation: Earth remote sensing; Planetary exploration: magnetometers; low energy charged particle analyzers (faraday cup, plasma analyzers, + EM & MCP); Langmuir probe; Space telescopes and observatories.


The course focuses on the near Earth space environment, and on the characteristics of Space-born instrumentation for the observation of the Universe. The course also aims to extend the knowledge of the students about propulsion systems and the planning of near-Earth and planetary missions.

  • Knowledge: Fundamental knowledge on the characteristics of space mission for planetary exploration and Earth or Space observation; on their definition in term of launch, cruise and technical and scientific payloads necessities. Detailed knowledge of the dynamics of orbital launchers, of circumterrestrial environment physics and its consequences on instrumentation and human crew. - Fair knowledge of the state of the art of relevant missions of astrophysical interest.

  • Competencies: To be able to define the main properties of a space mission on the basis of the technical and scientific requirements. - To be able to read and understand recent scientific articles about space physics.

  • Skills: To be able to present an in-depth study about space physics. - Good English language, to enable efficient interaction with researchers of other countries.