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: 


Italian (most of bibliograhy in English)

Course description

We aim to present to the student an introduction to space science, focused on Solar System structure and evolution, and to space technologies used in space activities, in particular system engineering of a spacecraft.
Knowledge and understanding: The student must demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of Solar System science (physics, geophysics, geology) and the physical laws and technologies on which a space project is based upon.
Ability to apply knowledge and understanding: Students must demonstrate to use their own acquired knowledge to discuss and explain the main physical processes acting in the Solar System, limits and capabilities of space technology.
Independent judgment: The student must be able to evaluate from his/her point of view physical problems different from what was discussed during the lessons.
Communication Skills: The student shall be able to support a conversation on the topics covered during the unit, with proper scientific language and by correctly using mathematics and plots.
Learning Skills: The student must be able to update and deepen autonomously specific topics and applications related to studied topics.


The student must know mathematical analysis and classical physics, including kinematics, point and rigid body dynamics electro-magnetism.


First bloc: physical laws and phenomena
- Gravitation and Kepler’s laws
- Introduction to Solar System
- Black body radiation, spectrum and emittance, Stefan-Boltzmann’s and Wien’s laws, Sun spectrum, Earth atmosphere transmission
- Thermal equilibrium in the Solar System; Planets thermal balance
- Electromagnetic radiation quantization, Bohr’s atom, angular momentum quantization, energy quantization
- Photons emission and absorption; introduction to atomic and molecular spectroscopy, solids and gases spectra, vibrational and rot-vibrational transitions; reflection spectroscopy

Second bloc: the Solar System
- Methods of studying the Solar System
- Solar System in the galaxy, cosmic distance scale, universe evolution, star evolution, nucleosynthesis
- Solar System formation, Sun evolution, other planetary systems
- Terrestrial planets formation (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Moon)
- Minor body classification and dynamics; TNO, KBO
- Comets
- Mars exploration
- Planetary geology
- Comets and Rosetta mission
- Asteroids, NEOs
- Origin and evolution of interplanetary dust, meteors, local and global effects of the Eart – extraterrestrial bodies interaction, meteoroids, asteroids impact and consequences on climate, Torino scale
- Eddington accretion
- Heating by accretion
- Sphere of influence
- Tide and recession of the Moon
- Poynting-Robertson Effect
- Planetary magnetism
- Magnetic interaction between planets and stars

Space systems engineering
- Introduction to space systems engineering
- Space environment and consequence on mission design
- Translation and rotation dynamics, propulsion dynamics, inertia tensor, precession and nutation, S/C configuration (w and w/o spin)
- Fundamentals of orbital motion, perturbations
- Mission planning, influence sphere, fly-by and gravitation assist
- Propulsion
- Launchers
- Synthetic aperture radar
- Attitude control system
- Digital photo-camera for space applications
- Spacecraft system engineering

Main contents of the class are:
- Physical laws governing the formation and evolution of a planetary system and the realization and control of a space mission
- formation and evolution of our Solar System, with specific emphasis on terrestrial planets
- introduction to space systems engineering, dealing with space environment, mission design, propulsion technologies and attitude control systems

Teaching Methods

72 hours of lessons supported by presentations and other multi-media material available to students


Bibliography (details are given for each topic).
RD1 Encrenanz et al. The Solar System Springer 3rd edition
RD2-I & II Mencuccini, Silvestrini Fisica I&II Liguori Ed.
RD3 Coole, Woolfson Planetary Science Institute of Physics Publishing
RD4 Fortescue et al. Spacecraft Systems Engineering Wiley
Slides used during the lessons are also to be considered (they are made available upon request).

Learning assessment

The purpose of the assessment is to quantify the level of achievement of the training objectives previously indicated. The verification procedure consists of an oral examination during which the ability of the student to apply the topics discussed during the course to different problems is tested.

More information

Lectures are in Italian.
Most of bibliography is in English.
The professor is fluent in English and is available to interact with students in English, and to allow the use of English during examinations.