2023-2024 / SPAT0028-2

Planetary magnetospheres and aurorae


20h Th, 10h Pr

Number of credits

 Master in space sciences (120 ECTS)3 crédits 


Bertrand Bonfond, Denis Grodent


Denis Grodent

Language(s) of instruction

English language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the second semester


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

Planetary magnetospheres and Aurorae
Polar aurorae do not only exist on Earth. They also appear on other planets and other objects in our Solar System and even in other planetary systems. These phantom-like displays are the most impressive evidence of permanent interaction between the planets and their spatial environment. In most cases, this interaction results from the combination of the Sun-Magnetosphere-Ionosphere. Other combinations exist and are just as effective at producing aurorae. We will explore the Solar System looking for such combinations.

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

List of subjects discussed in the course

General introduction
Magnetic dipole
Solar wind
Magnetospheric plasma
The heliosphere
Particles motions in a magnetized plasma
Planetary magnetic fields
Magnetopause currents
The auroral process
Planeterrella operation
Saturn and Jupiter magnetosphere and aurorae


Prerequisite knowledge and skills

Corequisite: SPAT0055 (or SPAT0048)
(It might be useful to follow courses SPAT0001, SPAT0029)

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

Problems and practical work A personal or team work will be requested. It will be presented individually during the final examination. Several activities are possible. They may rest on the Planeterrella experiment and the observation of Jupiter's radio auroral emissions.

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

Blended learning

Additional information:

A recorded version (MP4) of all lectures is available on Vimeo (links provided).
If it is not possible to organize practical work sessions based on the use of planeterrella, these group work sessions will be replaced by individual analysis of an article to be selected from a list made available to students. These articles are available on eCampus in pdf format.

Recommended or required readings

Copies of the (updated) power point lectures and reference book chapters may be downloaded from the eCampus web site.

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- In-person

oral exam

- Remote

oral exam

Written work / report

Additional information:

The oral exam consists of the presentation of the article analysed or their individual report on the planeterrella, in French or in English.

Students have about 15 minutes to present the content of the article or their report and to try to relate it to the material presented in the course.

A few questions will be asked about the article or the report and the material seen in the course.

The evaluation will be based on:

  • the mastery of the material presented,
  • the highlighting of links with the course,
  • the quality and care of the presentation and
  • the relevance of the answers to the questions.

In case of remote oral examination, use of MS Teams or Skype (backup solution).

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course

It is highly recommended to attend the face-to-face classes.
All movies available for download on eCampus or Vimeo must be viewed.


Prof Denis Grodent d.grodent@uliege.be

Laboratory for Planeatary and Atmospheric Physics

Space sciences, Technologies and Astrophysics Research (STAR) Institute

Université de Liège
Institut d'Astrophysique et de Géophysique
Quartier AGORA (B5c)
Allée du Six Août, 19C 
B-4000 Liège, Belgium

phone: +32 4 366 9773
Office: B5c (Astrophysique et Géophysique) - 0/5

Association of one or more MOOCs

Items online

PDF version of the slides presented during the classes.
PDF version of the slides presented during the classes.