2023-2024 / SPAT0043-1

The small bodies of the solar system


15h Th, 5h Pr

Number of credits

 Master in space sciences (120 ECTS)3 crédits 


Emmanuel Jehin

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

Small solar system bodies (asteroids , comets and meteors ) are an important source of information to understand the origin and evolution of the Solar System. These bodies, mostly intact since the formation of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago , deliver, through their study (dynamics, composition, etc. ) important informations about the physical and chemicals conditions that were prevailing at those early times. This is a very active area of ¿¿research that had in recent years many important advances thanks to, among others things, space missions. The course aims to make an overview of the various small bodies, from tiny interplanetary dust particules of the zodiacal light to the recently discovered dwarf planets, through comets and asteroids, the leftover of the primitive accretion disk, and by establishing many links between the different classes.
Table of Contents :
1 . asteroids 2 . Meteors and meteorites 3 . comets 4 . Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNO )
TP Observations of comets and asteroids with the TRAPPIST robotic telescope installed in Chile.

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

The aims of the lecture are:
(1) to provide the student with basic information on the different categories of small bodies; (2) to illustrate different physical problems related to the study of small bodies; (3) to present the different observational approaches of small bodies; (4) to help the student to get the big picture that emerges from the study of small bodies for the understanding of the solar system; (5) to promote interest in research across a range of exciting topics and many open questions ; (6) to generate interest for observational astronomy through the use of the TRAPPIST robotic telescope (discovery of new asteroids)

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

Basic knowledge of physics, at the level of bachelor in science.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

The student will prepare a presentation of about 1/2 hour to resume a paper related to the lecture.
The student will learn during the laboratory the observing techniques of asteroids and comets, realize his own observations, learn the basic techniques for dealing with CCD data. The student will learn to calculate the orbital parameters from the observations.     

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

Theoretical lectures of two hours (projection of slides and discussions). Laboratory of two hours (with laptops)  Second semester.

Recommended or required readings

Any session :

- In-person

oral exam

- Remote

oral exam

- If evaluation in "hybrid"

preferred remote

Additional information:

Oral examination. The student will prepare a presentation of about 1/2 hour on a paper related to the lecture.
Series of questions related to the lecture and linked to the paper.
By Visio-conference with Lifesize or face to face if it is allowed again

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course


Contacts Emmanuel Jehin Institut d'Astrophysique et de Géophysique, Bât. B5c, allée du 6 Août, 4000 Liège 1 (SartTilman). Tél.: 04/366.97.26 E-mail : ejehin@ulg.ac.be

Association of one or more MOOCs