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PAP311 Small Bodies in the Solar System, 5 cr 
Code PAP311  Validity 01.01.2017 -
Name Small Bodies in the Solar System  Abbreviation Small Bodies in 
Scope5 cr   
TypeAdvanced studies
  GradingGeneral scale 
    Can be taken more than onceno
Unit Master's Programme in Particle Physics and Astrophysical Sciences 

Target group 

Master’s Programme in Particle Physics and Astrophysical Sciences is responsible for the course.

Module where the course belongs to:

  • PAP300 Advanced Studies in Particle Physics and Astrophysical Sciences
    Optional for:
    1. Study Track in Astrophysical Sciences

The course is available to students from other degree programmes.


The recommended time for completion is after completing Solar System Physics and Celestial Mechanics.

The course will be offered every odd year (that is, every other year) in the autumn term, in I and II periods.

Learning outcomes 

The student knows where and how to find astronomical literature. The student is able to read and understand scientific literature, and can summarise the contents of scientific articles. The student can discuss scientific articles with his/her colleagues. The student understands the major research topics and their interconnections in small-body research and can provide an in-depth summary of the current status of asteroid research.

Completion methods 

The course is primarily offered in the form of contact teaching to enable discussion. Successful completion requires attending at least 12 lectures and that learning logs are returned for 13 out of 14 lectures. The final exam is a home exam and/or oral exam.


Solar System Physics (FYS2051) and Celestial Mechanics I-II (FYS2048 and FYS2049).

Recommended optional studies 

Recommended optional studies include Advanced Dynamics in Astronomy (PAP317) and Electromagnetic Scattering I-II (PAP315 and PAP316).


The course starts with an introduction to asteroids and the history of asteroid research and proceeds to assess how remote observations yield information about asteroids. This part discusses, first, asteroid surveys, as well as numbers, orbits, biases, and size distributions of asteroids, and, second, physical properties such as sizes, shapes, spins, and compositions of asteroids.

The remote-observations part is followed by a part discussing in situ exploration of asteroids. The in situ part discusses cratering on asteroids and asteroid geology based on space missions. Special attention is paid to sample return from near-Earth asteroids. Thereafter, dynamical, collisional, and cosmochemical evolutionary processes of asteroids are discussed.

Towards the end of the course, asteroids are interrelated with other solar-system bodies, including a discussion of asteroid families, relation of asteroids to meteoroid streams, evolution of comets into asteroids, main-belt comets, as well as the origins of the various populations of asteroids.

Finally, near-Earth-object impact hazard is discussed in depth with up-to-date information about objects with nonzero collision probabilities and efforts to mitigate the risks involved.

Study materials and literature 

The literature used during the course includes both review articles and peer-reviewed original research reports. The set reading list includes only selected chapters from the Asteroids IV book whereas up-to-date peer-reviewed research reports are agreed upon on a case-by-case basis. The supplementary reading list includes the earlier books in the Asteroids series (Asteroids I-III).

P. Michel, F. DeMeo & W. F. Bottke (eds): Asteroids IV, The Univ of Arizona Press, 2015.
W. F. Bottke, A. Cellino, P. Paolicchi & R. P. Binzel (eds): Asteroids III, The Univ of Arizona Press, 2002.

Activities and teaching methods in support of learning 

Students read the material and return a learning log prior to attending a lecture. The students prepare slides based on the reading material and present them during the lecture.

Assessment practices and criteria 

To pass with a grade 1/5 requires 43.3% of the maximum exam points, for the highest grade 5/5 the requirement is 86.7% of the maximum exam points. The maximum points from the final exam is 30.


Current and future instruction
No instruction in WebOodi

Future examinations
Functions Name Type cr Teacher Schedule
Registration Small Bodies in the Solar System  General Examination  Mikael Granvik 
14.08.20fri 10.00-14.00
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