Università degli Studi di Napoli "Parthenope"

Teaching schedule

Academic year: 
Belonging course: 
Course of Master's Degree Programme on SCIENCES AND TECHNOLOGIES OF NAVIGATION
Disciplinary sector: 
Year of study: 
Second semester
Hours of front activity: 



Course description

The course deals with the physical processes inside the Solar System, from its formation to present processes, also in comparison with exoplanetary systems. The subject of life in the Universe is also approached. The subjects include also recent findings from dedicated space missions.

Knowledge and understanding:

the Student must demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals physical science in the Solar System.

Ability to apply knowledge and understanding:

the Student must demonstrate to be able to use his own acquired knowledge to discuss and explain the main past and active physical processes in the Solar System and place them in the broader context of planetary systems in the Universe.
Independent judgment: 
the Student must be able to know how to independently evaluate point of views and applications different from the ones presented by the Teacher during the lessons.

Communication Skills: 
the Student should be able to support a conversation on the lessons topics using a correct scientific language with corresponding mathematical and graphical representation.

Learning Skills: 
the Student must be able to update and deepen autonomously specific topics and applications dealing with the studied subjects.


The Student must know the basic mathematics and physics, kinematics, dynamics of the point ant the rigid body, electromagnetism.


TWO-BODY PROBLEM: keplerian orbits and laws; orbital elements; Newton law. ASTRONOMICAL RF: equatorial and ecliptic systems. GRAND TOUR: SS structure; planets classes; physical properties; frost-line; Titius-Bode law; moons and rings; IAU planet classification. SS FORMATION: nebular hypothesis; solids aggregation and planetesimals; Sun and planets formation. PRESENT STRUCTURE: Nice and Grand Tack models. SUN: Planck law and solar radiance; Sun in HR diagram; mass; composition; internal structure and nucleosynthesis; solar neutrinos dilemma; vibrations and helioseismology; internal rotation; external structure; electric field and inversion cycle; solar wind. SS SMALL BODIES: asteroids, comets, TNOs; primitiveness; orbits; reservoirs; composition; organic material and life; non gravitational forces; hazards and impact prevention. PLANETARY INTERIORS: Earth internal structure and composition; seismic evidences of stratification; other terrestrial bodies internal structure; layering formation; heat transport and effects on terrestrial planets; heat loss and plate tectonics; volcanism and criovolcanism; superficial processes; giant planets internal structure. PLANETARY ATMOSPHERES: vertical structure and causes; terrestrial troposphere; hydrostatic equilibrium; scale height and isothermal atmosphere; temperature gradient; thermal and gravitational energy balance; mean free path and exobase; chemical composition and evolution; energetic balance; extinction; greenhouse effect; refraction; spontaneous emissions; ionosphere; giant planets atmosphere: profile, composition and circulation. PLANETARY MAGNETIC FIELDS: origin; morphology; charges motion in planetary fields; aurorae. THREE-BODY PROBLEM: Lagrangian points; Hill sphere; Tisserand invariant. EXOPIANETS: number; discovery methodologies; systems structure and variability; Earth Similarity Index. LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE: definition of life; water in the Universe; exogenous and endogenous theories terrestrial water origin; Earth uniqueness factors; habitable zone; life spectroscopic detections; Drake equation; SETI and contact projects.

Astronomical Reference Frames (1h);
The two- and three-body problems (2h);
Formation, evolution, present configuration and structure of the Solar System (11h);
The Sun (4h);
The small bodies of the Solar System (5h);
Physics of planetary interiors and surface phenomena (9h);
Planetary atmospheres (10h);
Planetary magnetic fields (2h);
Exoplanets and Life in the Universe (4h).

Teaching Methods

48 hours of front lessons using presentations and multimedia material which will be given to students.


Lessons by the Teacher and references therein.
Planetary Sciences – Updated second edition by dePater and Lissauer, Cambridge 2015.
An Introduction to Astrobiology (Third Edition) by Rothery , Gilmour, and Septhon, Cambridge, 2018.

Learning assessment

The purpose of the test procedure is quantifying the level of achievement of the educational objectives aforementioned. The test procedure is an oral examination dealing with the subjects of the lessons.

More information

The lessons will be held in italian. The Teacher is anyway available to interact in english with foreign students at any level, from the lessons to the final examination.