The polar light simulator


Scholars and students work

Very soon after its inception, the Planeterrella began to interest students and teachers. It moves to them or the students come to see it. In primary school, they write texts. In college, it adapts to the program "Science and Life on Earth" or to the Physics program. High school students use it for their "Personnal Supervised Work" and those preparatory classes for their "Personnal Individual Supervised Work". Students make physical models to describe it... This page gives some examples of (...)

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Articles pure Planeterrella

This page provides scientific and outreach articles directly related to the Planeterrella
The following article- is a description of the physical experience in French. Jean Lilensten, Mathieu Barthélémy, Cyril Simon, Philippe Jeanjacquot, La Planeterrella, une expérience pédagogique en planétologie et physique des plasmas, Bull. Un. Phys., 102, 799-816, 2008
Here, with several more paragraphs, the description in English Freely downloadable- J. Lilensten, Mathieu Barthélemy, Cyril Simon, (...)

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Scientific papers

This page contains scientific articles dealing with the physics of Planeterrella. These are essentially articles in English, published in scientific journals with referees.
The following article is in German - (Auf Deutch)
The following aticle - in English - was found on the web (http://electric-cosmos.org/PrimerAboutGD.pdf). This is a great introduction to the physics of plasma discharges with an approach "with the hands" that I always enjoy.
Here is a beautiful experimental approach (...)

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Books on Kristian Birkeland To my knowledge, there are only two books published on K. Birkeland. Both are excellent. "Kristian Birkeland, the first space scientist," Ed Springer, A. Egeland and W.J. Burke, is a very detailed description of Kristian Birkeland and his advances in physics and space physics. It also describes his life with precision. I know Alve Egeland, I greatly admire him as a scientist and as a good friend. It is not surprising that this book is so precise and well (...)

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Leaflet in English

You can download here the leaflet in English. It was realized by the graphic services of CNRS - Alpes, and funded by its communication service.
There is also a leaflet in French, which was made by several 14-years old scholars through a series of internships, which may be downloaded here: http://planeterrella.obs.ujf-grenoble.fr/spip.php?article107

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Emission Spectrum

Students often ask us what are the lines in the emission spectrum of the Planeterrella. Each corresponds to a particular excitation, a transition from an excited state to another state. As in a game in a newspaper, we propose you to try identifying yourself For this, Mr. Barthélémy has acquired the spectrum below that you can download: will you identify the lines*?
To compare with the auroral spectrum, you can use the one proposed by NCAR (...)

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Historical texts

Birkeland left us some visible manuscripts here (texts are in french)
Studies of Carl Stoermer on the magnetic fields following the experiments of K. Birkeland

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This site is not meant to be a site on K. Birkeland. Some of those, much better documented on the subject, can be found on the bibliography page.
Former student of Poincaré, Birkeland loved deeply French, and wrote most of his scientific papers in French. He also wrote in English and, of course, in Norwegian : very proud of his country (still in its young), he was one of the first scientists to write science in his language. His PhD student, Störmer, used to write mainly in English.
Cyril (...)

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Institut de Planétologie et d'Astrophysique de Grenoble (IPAG)