Topic outline

  • The course will start on 13.9.2021 at 10.15 online / remote mode via Zoom. The Zoom room for this course can be found in the Course schedule section under the activity "Introduction to Space Zoom". Use this link for all live lectures.


    Course description

    What is in space, what kind of an environment is it, and how can you study it? Space science is a vast research field covering topics all the way from the Earth's atmosphere and the solar system to the most distant galaxies in the Universe and cosmology. Space technology -satellites and probes, and the scientific instruments onboard them- helps us to measure them. This course gives an overview of the contents and dimensions of space, and the basic tools for understanding it: celestial coordinate systems, celestial mechanics and satellite orbits, solar system physics and astronomy, and emission mechanisms relevant for these fields. This knowledge is required in the subsequent space science and technology courses. The course consists of theory and practice sessions, and a final exam.


    Image credit: ESA/Hubble


  • Workload
    • Contact hours: 48h (2x2h / week)
    • Independent work: 87h


    Course content

    • Basics of astronomy and space physics.
    • Building blocks and central properties of the universe and the solar system.
    • Emission mechanisms
    • Coordinate systems.
    • Celestial mechanics & orbits.
    • Observations of astronomical and solar system phenomena.
    • Space technology and missions.
    • Space science and technology research and education at Aalto University.


    Learning outcomes

    • After the course the student has the basic knowledge of astronomy, space physics and space technology that are needed for further studies.
    • The student knows the structure and central physical properties of the universe and the solar system, and the objects contained in them.
    • She/he identifies the basic concepts and tools of astronomy and space physics, and is able to solve simple problems related to them.
    • The student can list what kind of observations can be made of astronomical and solar system phenomena, and what is the motivation behind such efforts.
    • She/he can compute simple orbits of satellites using celestial and orbital mechanics, and can apply various celestial coordinate systems.
    • The student recognises the basic vocabulary used in space science and technology, and how Aalto University is situated in the national and international space research scenes.


    Teachers

    Anne Lähteenmäki, Esa Kallio, Jaan Praks, Merja Tornikoski and Joni Tammi. Assistants: Irene Björklund & others. Emails firstname.lastname@aalto.fi.



  • The Zoom room for the course can be found below, at the bottom of the page, under "Zoom room for live teaching sessions".

    Course structure

    There will be one theory session and one practice session for each topic. The sessions are complementary, the first aiming to give the theoretical and scientific background and the latter to provide practical details, such as simulations, assignments, discussions, and so on, to enhance the student's understanding. The theory sessions are on Mondays and the practice sessions on the following Tuesdays, with the deadline for returning assignments on Tuesdays a week after, at the start of the next practice session at 12.15. Most of the theory and practice sessions are live lectures via Zoom, unless otherwise instructed in the schedule below.


    Theory sessions on Mondays at 10-12

    • First theory session 13.9.2021.


    Practice sessions on Tuesdays at 12-14

    • First practice session 21.9.2021.

    Assignment deadlines
    • Tuesdays a week after, at the start of the next practice session at 12.15.


    Exam

    The exam will be held online on Tuesday 14.12.2021 at 13 - 16. The retake exam is scheduled for 31.1.2022.


    Course schedule

    This is the current schedule for the teaching sessions. Most theory and practice sessions take place via Zoom (marked in blue), and some of them may include preliminary work (marked in yellow). Some sessions include only self-study materials (marked in green), with no live Zoom session.

    Lecture slides and self-study materials, and any other lecture materials, will be posted in Lecture slides and other materials.
    Assignments and preliminary work will be posted in Assignments and preliminary work.


    Theory session
    Practice session    
    Topic
    13.9. Zoom session
     (14.9. no teaching)
    Course introduction & information
    20.9. Zoom session
     21.9. Zoom session
    Solar system, planets & space environment
    27.9. Zoom session
     28.9. Zoom session
    Plasma 1: Observations
    4.10. Zoom session
     5.10. Zoom session
    Plasma 2: Modelling
    11.10. Preliminary work
    + Zoom session

     12.10. Zoom session
    Coordinate systems & time
    18.10. Zoom session 
     19.10. Zoom session Orbits & celestial mechanics
    (25.10.)
     (26.10.)
    Exam week, no teaching
     1.11. Zoom session
     2.11. Zoom session
    Space technology and history
    8.11. Self-study
     9.11. Zoom session
    Emission mechanisms 1
    15.11. Self-study
     16.11. Zoom session
    Emission mechanisms 2
    22.11. Zoom session
     23.11. Zoom session 
    Galactic astronomy 1
    29.11. Zoom session
     30.11. Zoom session
    Galactic astronomy 2
    (6.12. no teaching)  7.12. Zoom session
    Extragalactic astronomy & cosmology (theory session only)

     14.12. Exam
    Exam week, exam on 14.12.


    Course topics


    13.9. Introduction (AL, EK)
    • Information about the course: theory sessions & preliminary work, practice sessions & group and individual assignments, exam. Evaluation methods.
    • Contents of the course & what to expect. Universe.
    • Space scene in Finland and in Aalto: space technology, radio astronomy, space physics.

    20. & 21.9. Solar system, planets & space environment (EK)
    • Solar system structure and bodies, such as planets.
    • Space as an environment for satellites.

    27. & 28.9. Plasma 1: Observations (EK)
    • Space plasma missions and instruments.

    4. & 5.10. Plasma 2: Modelling (EK)
    • Interpretation of observations by models and simulations.

    11 & 12.10. Coordinate systems & time (MTT)
    • Celestial coordinate systems.

    • Time. Time standards.


    18 & 19.10. Orbits & celestial mechanics (JP)
    • Kepler's laws.

    • Types of orbits, orbital elements, trajectories.

    • Effect of gravity.


    1. & 2.11. Space technology & history (JP)
    • Overview of space exploration.

    • History of space technology.


    8. & 9.11. Emission mechanisms 1 (JT)
    • Basics of emission mechanisms: black body radiation, synchrotron emission etc.
    • Significance in space sciences and technology.

    15. & 16.11. Emission mechanisms 2 (JT)
    • Basics of emission mechanisms continued.


    22. & 23.11. Galactic astronomy 1 (AL, IB)
    • Building blocks of the Milky Way: evolution & origin, structure, physics, and rotation.
    • The Galactic center.


    29. & 30.11. Galactic astronomy 2 (AL, IB)
    • Stars.
    • Interstellar medium: dust, neutral and ionized hydrogen, molecules.

    7.12. Extragalactic astronomy & cosmology (MTT)
    • Introduction to galaxies. Redshift. Hubble's law.
    • Radio galaxies. Quasars and other active galactic nuclei. Quasar research at Metsähovi.
    • Basics of cosmology. Cosmic microwave background.

    14.12. Exam
    • See page Exam 14.12.2021 for more details

  • Evaluation and course grades are based on assignments and final exam: both must be passed for passing the entire course. For the final grade, these are then weighted as follows: assignments 60%, exam 40%. Active participation in course activities is essential for passing the course.


    Exam

    The exam will be held online on Tuesday 14.12.2021 at 13 - 16. The retake exam will be on 31.1.2022, check details later.

    There will be four questions, broadly covering many of the course topics -particularly those relevant for further studies. Details of the exam will be posted here later.



  • The exam will be held on Tuesday 14.12.2021 at 13 - 16 online in MyCourses. (We give you an extra hour in addition to those mentioned in official exam hours in MyCourses.) There will be four questions as usual, broadly covering many of the course topics -particularly those relevant for further studies. The format of the exam is “normal”, meaning that it is similar to previous exams.

    The exam will be done as a MyCourses assignment on the MyCourses section page named Exam14.12.2021 (see bottom of this page for the assignment). The assignment will open automatically on Tuesday 14.12.2021 at 13.00 and will close three hours later at 16.15. The idea is that you will have three (3) hours for completing the problems and after that 15 minutes for submitting your answers. Take photos or scan your exam answer sheets, and SUBMIT THE PICTURES or THE SCANNED FILES to MyCourses. You can also write them on a computer, making sure to include everything you would also include when writing by hand. Make sure your pictures/text files are clear and readable, and use normal file formats such as JPG or PDF. The deadline is absolute, the submission will close automatically at 16.15 so make sure you have enough time for the submission process.

    As this is a home exam, justifying your answers is more critical than ever. Because you are allowed to use all course materials in the exam, we will need to see that you have understood the problems and can therefore explain how you have solved them and reached your final conclusions. Simply stating the answer will not show that you know what you have been doing, so justify! In earlier exams there have been several cases where equations and values used in them have not been written down, or values have been taken from the web without giving justifications. This inevitably leads to poor points so JUSTIFY, JUSTIFY, JUSTIFY, and write down everything you do.

    Additional information and answers to earlier questions: Both hand and computer written answers are fine. You can use whatever materials, books, programmes etc there are available. In a home exam we cannot restrict or control what kind of tools and materials you use, therefore the exam problems have been formulated so that you need to understand what you are doing. Please do not rely only on programme printouts in your answers! As said, we need to see your justifications so write all equations, numbers, and solutions down clearly in a logical order, showing EVERY STEP of the solution, even if you use tools/programmes for actually calculating them. If you like, you can include the printouts as appendices but do not use them as your only answer.

    In the following there is a list of DOs and DON’Ts for this home exam.

    DO

    -use the given course materials: My Courses materials, your notes, links and books we have indicated, practice session exercises etc.

    -answer the problems on your own without any help from outside.

     

    DON’T

    -rampage around the internet googling for ready-made answers.

    -discuss with or copy from others.

    -directly copy any of the materials you use: this is plagiarism and will NOT be accepted.

    -be dishonest in any other way that we do not distinctly forbid. You know what this means even without saying.


    Because of the extraordinary circumstances, any copying and/or plagiarism found in the answers (either from course materials, web, books, or, heaven forbid, from friends) will automatically result in failing the entire exam.

    PS. Retake exam is on 31.1.2022.


  • The exam will be held on Monday 31.1.2022 at 16.30 - 19.45 online in MyCourses. There will be four questions as usual, broadly covering many of the course topics -particularly those relevant for further studies. The format of the exam is “normal”, meaning that it is similar to previous exams.

    The exam will be done as a MyCourses assignment on the MyCourses section page named Exam31.1.2022 (see bottom of this page for the assignment). The assignment will open automatically on Monday 31.1.2022 at 16.30 and will close three hours later at 19.45. The idea is that you will have three (3) hours for completing and after that 15 minutes for submitting your answers. Take photos or scan your exam answer sheets, and SUBMIT THE PICTURES or THE SCANNED FILES to MyCourses. You can also write them on a computer, making sure to include everything you would also include when writing by hand. Make sure your pictures/text files are clear and readable, and use normal file formats such as JPG or PDF. The deadline is absolute, the submission will close automatically at 19.45 so make sure you have enough time for the submission process.

    As this is a home exam, justifying your answers is more critical than ever. Because you are allowed to use all course materials in the exam, we will need to see that you have understood the problems and can therefore explain how you have solved them and reached your final conclusions. Simply stating the answer will not show that you know what you have been doing, so justify! In earlier exams there have been several cases where equations and values used in them have not been written down, or values have been taken from the web without giving justifications. This inevitably leads to poor points so JUSTIFY, JUSTIFY, JUSTIFY, and write down everything you do.

    Both hand and computer written answers are fine. You can use whatever materials, books, programmes etc there are available. In a home exam we cannot restrict or control what kind of tools and materials you use, therefore the exam problems have been formulated so that you need to understand what you are doing. Please do not rely only on programme printouts in your answers! As said, we need to see your justifications so write all equations, numbers, and solutions down clearly in a logical order, showing EVERY STEP of the solution, even if you use tools/programmes for actually calculating them. If you like, you can include the printouts as appendices but do not use them as your only answer.

    In the following there is a list of DOs and DON’Ts for this home exam.

    DO

    -use the given course materials: My Courses materials, your notes, links and books we have indicated, practice session exercises etc.

    -answer the problems on your own without any help from outside.

     

    DON’T

    -rampage around the internet googling for ready-made answers.

    -discuss with or copy from others.

    -directly copy any of the materials you use: this is plagiarism and will NOT be accepted.

    -be dishonest in any other way that we do not distinctly forbid. You know what this means even without saying.


    Because of the extraordinary circumstances, any copying and/or plagiarism found in the answers (either from course materials, web, books, or, heaven forbid, from friends) will automatically result in failing the entire exam.