Space physics and solar-terrestrial coupling

Lecturer(s): Raffaele MARINO, Christophe CORRE
Course ⋅ 26 hStudy ⋅ 6 h


Aerospace engineering concerns the development of technologies for atmosphere and space. The design of vehicles, launch systems and payloads cannot thus disregard a deep understanding of such operational environments. The main purpose of this class is to provide a detailed description of the physics of the interplanetary space and of the outermost layers of the Earth’s atmosphere, as well as to describe the coupling between solar activity and Earth’s dynamics. The interplanetary medium and the upper atmosphere are in the plasma state and they both develop a strong turbulent character. Theory and modeling of space plasmas and anisotropic turbulence will be proposed here, technologies and tools to investigate these environments will also be introduced.


space plasmas; solar wind turbulence; stratosphere, mesosphere and ionosphere; solar-terrestrial coupling; space weather; space and atmospheric missions; numerical modeling.


  • The Sun and the heliosphere: introductory space physics.
  • First space explorations, mission design, in-situ and remote sensing observations.
  • Space plasmas: main models for the description of plasmas, magnetohydrodynamic turbulence.
  • Notions on statistical data analysis and numerical simulations.
  • Solar wind: physical properties and turbulence.
  • Plasma instruments, spacecraft measurements and orbital parameters, research articles on space physics.
  • Solar-terrestrial coupling: Earth's environment, dynamics of stratosphere, mesosphere and ionosphere, interplay of waves and turbulence in geophysical flows.
  • Basic notions on heliospheric and climate models, space weather and balloon observations.

Learning Outcomes

  • Gain extensive knowledge on space plasma physics and turbulence in the interplanetary medium.
  • Understanding dynamics of mid/upper atmosphere and the coupling with the solar activity and the solar wind.
  • Acquiring competencies on tools and technologies in space and atmospheric research (space missions, balloon-borne experiments, numerical models, etc.).
  • Being able to identify key aspects and major results in a research article, as well as learning how to do a bibliographic search.


Final grade = 70% knowledge grade, 30% know-how grade Knowledge grade = 100% exam grade Know-how grade = 100% project grade