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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Robert Holzworth
ESS 471
Seattle Campus

Introduction to Space Physics

Introduces several areas of space physics, the physical principles that apply therein, and the methods by which significant observations are made. Covers electromagnetic and plasma processes from the center of the sun to the surface of the earth. Prerequisite: PHYS 123.

Class description

Abstract: Introduces several areas of space physics, the physical principles that apply therein, and the methods by which significant observations are made. Covers electromagnetic and plasma processes from the center of the sun to the surface of the earth.

Content description: This course asks the questions: How does the sun work, and how does it affect our near earth environment? The class will range over the science behind the inner workings of the sun, the propagation of that solar energy through the outer layers of the sun and through the solar atmosphere, the propagation through interplanetary space, and how that energy, in all its forms, impacts and transforms the physical environment of the earth. Of course the sun is important to many disciplines (biology, atmospheric and surface chemistry, geomorphology to list just a few), but we will focus on the physical environment, especially that involving plasmas and conducting fluids. Students will investigate the science of plasma physics, with direct applications to the space environment. We will address questions such as: what is a solar flare? What are the radiation belts? What causes the aurora borealis? What is the magnetosphere? How does the ionosphere change and why? How do we make the critical measurements in these environments?

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Prerequisites: 1st year Physics: PHYS 121,2,and 3 Text: no required text, but one book we will depend on is Introduction to Space Physics by Kivelson and Russell, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1995

Class assignments and grading

The students will do a lot of reading and participating in class discussions. Assignments will be short investigations requiring web-based and library research. Some quizzes will be offered to help the student focus on the readings. The class will culminate with a research paper.

Weekly assignments plus a paper


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Robert Holzworth
Date: 12/28/2004