The Heliophysics Summer School focuses on the physics of space weather events that start at the Sun and influence atmospheres, ionospheres and magnetospheres throughout the solar system. The solar system offers a wide variety of conditions under which the interaction of bodies with a plasma environment can be studied: there are planets with and without large-scale magnetic fields and associated magnetospheres; planetary atmospheres display a variety of thicknesses and compositions; satellites of the giant planets reveal how interactions occur with subsonic and sub-Alfvenic flows whereas the solar wind interacts with supersonic and super-Alfvenic impacts.
Encompassed under a general title of comparative magnetospheres are processes occurring on a range of scales from the solar wind interacting with comets to the interstellar medium interacting with the heliosphere. The school addresess not only the physics of all these various environments but also goes into the technologies by which these various environments are being observed. The program is complemented with considerations of the societal impacts of space weather that affects satellites near Earth and elsewhere in the solar system.
The school is based on lectures, laboratories, and recitations from world experts, and draws material from the three textbooks Heliophysics I-III, published by Cambridge University Press.
The first three schools produced textbooks for use at universities worldwide.
The continuation of the school program each summer teaches new generations of students and develops the complementary materials that support teaching of heliophysics at both graduate and undergraduate levels.
The Summer School has three principal aims:
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