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York University
Faculty of Science
Department of Physics and Astronomy

PHYS 3280 3.0 W17/18
Physics of the Space Environment



Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7

Midterm Exam information
Final Exam information

Serious quizzes






Course Description: The course will cover all fundamental aspects of the physical processes of the upper atmosphere, the ionosphere, the magnetosphere and the heliosphere with the near interplanetary medium, and the interactions that occur with space vehicles that traverse these regions of space.

Course Syllabus (html)
Course Syllabus (pdf)

Evaluation Scheme:

Breakdown of Final Grade


Total (%)

In-class quizzes

Term work (3-5 assignments)


Midterm Exam


Final Exam





Professor Norbert Bartel (Course Director)
Room 331 Petrie Science Building

Tel: 416-736-5424
E-mail: bartel@yorku.ca

Class Schedule:

Lectures: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
13:30 - 14:30
Location: Petrie Building Room 321

Special Dates:



First class

January 5

Assignment #1 - #5 ...


 Winter Reading Days
 February 17 - 23

Midterm Exam

February 26

Last class

April 6

Final Exam (Chapters 1 - 7)



Office Hours

Come by my office and see whether I have time, or
  Mondays and Wednesdays 15:30 – 16:30:
Room 331 Petrie Science and Engineering Building

Required Text:

Physics of the Earth's Space Environment
by Gerd W. Pr
ölss (Springer 2010)

Alternate Texts: None                    

Online Books:

NASA online book about sun-earth interactions:
NASA microgravity (1):
NASA microgravity (2):
ESA materials:                                

Course Contents

1.  Introduction                                                 1in1     6in1                                                           
2. Neutral Upper Atmosphere                      1in1     6in1
3. Absorption of Solar Radiation Energy     1in1     6in1
4. Ionosphere                                                1in1     6in1                                   
5.  Magnetosphere                                        1in1     6in1
6. The Interplanetary Medium                      1in1     6in1
7. Orbital Debris and Micrometeorites         1in1     6in1

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Academic Policy Issues:
If illness (or some similar disruption) prevents you from writing a test or from handing
in an assignment, you must notify the instructor on or before the due date. Only in truly
extraordinary circumstances is notification after the due date acceptable.
Students must be aware of University policies regarding: a) Academic Integrity
and b) Religious Observances [https://w2prod.sis.yorku.ca/Apps/WebObjects/cdm.woa/wa/regobs].
Please read the policies in full. As a summary, the rules are as follows:
a) Students must not plagiarize. It's OK to work together to find the path to a
solution of a homework problem, as long as you write up the answer independently.
You must write assignments in your own words; identical answers will result in
zeros for all parties involved.  Plagiarism is a serious academic offense.
Students must also not cheat or impersonate another individual during quizzes or exams.
b) While religious observations are respected, it may well be that a conflict occurs in the
scheduling of assignments or exams. Should a conflict occur, the student should contact
the course instructor before, and not on or after, the due date. By default, assignments
must be handed in before and not after the due date in such cases.

Send comments to: bartel@yorku.ca

Indicate in the subject line: PHYS3280