master course in physics with a main focus on atomic, plasma and astronautics physics
A new master course in physics is established with a main focus on atomic, plasma and astronautics physics in co-operation with the German Aerospace Center (DLR). This course combines physics and astronautics in an interdisciplinary academic curriculum, unique in Europe. Recognized experts in the field of astronautics from DLR and ESA will give a part of the lectures. After completing this master course the students are able to work at the interface between physics and engineering science.
The physics institutes at the Justus-Liebig-University Giessen (JLU) have successfully developed ion thrusters for spacecraft propulsion since the pioneer work of Horst Löb nearly 50 years ago. In winter term 2010/11, a two-year course "Master of Science in Physics" with a focus on "atomic, plasma and astronautics physics" was accredited to meet the demands of aerospace industry and space agencies for experts in this field. The course will be organized in close co-operation with DLR, European Space Agency (ESA) and international universities like Pisa and Southampton. Profiting from cooperation of internationally recognized experts as lecturers ensures an up-to-dateness of the contents.
The synergy of physics as a fundamental science with astronautics as a technical discipline has been very successful in space science and technology since the beginnings of spaceflight. Besides engineers, physicists have often proven to be not only prospective scientific pioneers but also reliable astronauts (e.g. Ulf Merbold, Hans Wilhelm Schlegel, Gerhard Thiele, Reinhold Ewald, Reinhard Furrer, Ernst Messerschmid, Ulrich Walter).
This historic connection between physics and astronautics is one of the motivations to launch the new master course with an interdisciplinary academic curriculum, unique in Europe.
In contrast to the master courses in aerospace technology offered by several technical universities in Germany, this course is mainly aiming at physicists. Special emphasis is placed on imparting interdisciplinary knowledge about modern physics and its technical applications. Main objective of the course is to qualify the participants for working successfully at the interface between physics and engineering science, thereby achieving synergies between space physics and other research fields. Consequently, the important subject "plasma physics" is not only taught simply in the context of ion thrusters but more generally adressing also aspects of materials processing, surface coating and medical applications. Therefore, the alumni will have manifold carreer prospects in different branches of industry and science. Numerous collaborations with industrial partners contribute to this. They range from world manufacturers of vacuum and plasma equipment (Pfeiffer Vakuum, PVA TePla) to major european aerospace companies (EADS, Thales).
The intensivation of the research activities at JLU in the field of spacecraft propulsion are also manifested by the appointment of additional professorships in the field, broadening the range of challenging subjects for master theses. External master theses, in cooperation with DLR research facilities in Göttingen or with the MPI for Extra-Terrestrical physics in Garching (near Munich), are also possible.
The master course combines theoretical, experimental and application-oriented lectures and laboratory sessions on structure of matter with modules on astronautics. Following the compulsory basic modules on applied atomic physics and fundamentals of astronautics scheduled in the first semester, each student may select further modules in the fields of atomic and nuclear physics, plasma physics, physics of astronautics and solid state physics, according to his individual interests during the second and third semester. The fourth semester is dedicated to the completion of the master thesis.
The course "Master of Science in Physics" at the JLU is open for all students holding a degree "Bachelor of Science in Physics". Holders of a bachelor's degree in other natural or technical sciences may also be accepted provided their certificates prove an appropriate physical qualification.
The master degree entitles the holder to join a Ph.D. programme.
As for the most of german universities, the course is free of charge except the fee for supporting the student union (about 230 € per semester).