Univ. NICE
Dr. Pierre Henri
Space Plasmas:
from the Sun to planet
(in complement of lectures on Astero-Helio-atmosphere for asteroseismology)
– renamed “Space plasmas” from A.Y. 2024/2025
(S2, compulsory, 2 ECTS)
Learning Outcomes:The Sun fills in the solar system with both radiation and matter. Indeed, the expansion of the solar corona in the interplanetary medium (the so-called solar wind) is a supersonic flow of ionized matter (plasma), for which planets, and other bodies in the solar system such as asteroids or comets, represent an obstacle. The interaction between the solar wind and planets shapes their outer environment (ionosphere, magnetosphere) and mediates the impact of space weather.
Knowledge and Understanding:
The main goal is to provide basic knowledge and skills in space plasma physics and space plasma observations in the context of space weather studies and solar system exploration.
Applying Knowledge and Understanding:The lecture will be directly connected to other lectures of the Master: Helio & Asteroseismology, Stellar atmospheres and space applications lectures.
PrerequisitesElectromagnetism Fluid dynamics Thermodynamics Basic knowledge in mathematics
ProgramIntroduction to plasma physics and application to space environments definition and main properties of plasmas, (2h) introduction to plasma waves, (2h) introduction to plasma instabilities. (2h)
A journey through the solar system: from the Solar corona to planets the solar wind, introduction to space weather, (2h) induced and intrinsic magnetospheres. (2h)
Space exploration and space plasma instrumentation : Introduction to space projects, (2h) Spacecraft-plasma interactions, (1h) Examples of space plasma instruments. (1h)
Space data analysis (2h + personal work): applications to in situ space observations of either the Earth bow shock (ESA CLUSTER data) or cometary ionospheres (ESA Rosetta data).
Description of how the course is conductedLectures to acquire theoretical background on basics of space plasma physics, as well as applications to space plasmas of interest to both space weathering and planetary exploration.
Lectures on practical aspects of in situ space plasma instrumentation and on works associated to space projects from instrumental teams point of view.
Application: support and supervision for the analysis of space data (two different practical projects to be shared among the students).
Description of the didactic methods
Description of the evaluation methodsThe examination will be based on two reports: a first one dedicated to space data analysis, a second one dedicated to the analysis of a research paper. Each report represents 50% of the final mark.
Adopted TextbooksMeyer-Vernet, Basics of the Solar Wind. Cambridge University Press. (2007) Cravens, Physics of Solar System Plasmas, Cambridge University Press. (1997)
Recommended readingsKrall and Trievelpiece. Principles of Plasma Physics. San Francisco Press Inc. (1979). Gurnett and Battacharjee. Introduction to Plasma Physics., Cambridge University Press (2006). Suess, Steven T. and Bruce T. Tsurutani. “From the Sun, Auroras, Magnetic Storms, Solar Flares, Cosmic Rays.”, American Geophysical Union (1998).