Prof. Robert Ergun specializes in space and astrophysical plasmas with applications to Earth's and Jupiter's magnetosphere, Mars' ionosphere, and the solar wind. He has developed or is currently developing space-flight electric field instruments for several NASA missions: the FAST satellite (auroral acceleration region), the Wind satellite (solar wind), the STEREO satellites (solar wind), the THEMIS satellites (Earth's magnetosphere), the Radiation Belt Storm Probes (Earth's radiation belts), the Magnetospheric Multi-Scale satellites (reconnection in Earth's magnetosphere), the MAVEN satellite (Mars atmospheric loss), and the Solar Probe Plus satellite (near-Sun solar wind). Theoretical programs focusing on small-scale plasma phenomena at Earth, Jupiter Mars, and the solar wind including simulation and analytical modeling of magnetic reconnection, electron phase-space holes, parallel electric fields carried by double layers, and solar wind turbulence.
ASTR 1000 - The Solar System
Introduction to the night sky, planets, moons and the life in our solar system. Highlights the latest discoveries from space. For non-science majors. Some lectures may be held at Fiske Planetarium. Offers opportunities for nighttime observations at Sommers-Bausch Observatory. Similar to ASTR 1010, but without lab. Degree credit not granted for this course and ASTR 1010 or ASTR 1030.
ASTR 5140 - Astrophysical and Space Plasmas
Teaches magnetohydrodynamics and a few related areas of plasma physics applied to space and astrophysical systems, including planetary magnetospheres and ionospheres, stars, and interstellar gas in galaxies. Same as PHYS 5141.
ASTR 5300 - Introduction to Magnetospheres
Introduces solar and stellar winds, and planetary and stellar magnetospheres. Acquaints students with the guiding center theory for particle motion, magnetospheric topology, convection, radiation belts, magnetic storms and substorms, and auroras.