I am a researcher in the Department of Physics of the University of Helsinki, working in the field of Space Physics. My main research interests reside in the interaction of solar storms with the Earth’s environment, how they affect and are affected by the different regions of near-Earth space, in order to improve our capability to predict their effects. The motivation for that is that solar storms can be harmful for human activities in space and on the ground: they can disrupt GPS signals, damage spacecraft electronics and even cause power failures. Just like meteorologists forecast the weather, space scientists aim at forecasting the space weather, in other words, the conditions in near-Earth space, and providing warning for incoming storms.
However, this requires a detailed understanding of the physics of the Sun-Earth connection, from the eruptions of the solar storms at the Sun, their propagation through the solar system, to their interaction with the Earth’s magnetosphere, the region around the Earth created by our planet’s magnetic field and which protects us from direct contact with the solar particles.
In my work, I am focusing on some of the pieces of this big puzzle: I am investigating the role played by the outermost regions of the Earth’s environment, outside the magnetosphere, in order to check whether these may change the properties of the incoming solar storms before they impact the magnetosphere, and may thus throw off some of our space weather forecasts. Some of the results of this research were featured in an article in Eos: Earth and Space Science News.