TET-Trainee Report

Otto Kotovirta, Kruununhaka Upper Comprehensive School (8th grade)

Hello internet!

I was a TET-trainee at Helsinki University’s Space physics team.

My tasks included writing a short text on coronal mass ejections (CME) (which you can see below) and making a catalog of multipoint observed Interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICME) observed by different spacecraft, for which I made a program (in excel) where you enter the time of the magnetic obstacles and the travel distance to calculate the speed. I also attended some lectures and a journal club-meeting. We printed some posters for the European Geo-sciences conference.

The subject I worked with seemed quite boring and complicated because I knew almost nothing about it, but I managed to pick it up quite fast and it turned out to be really interesting. My experience with scientific research was a bit plain, because I did only cataloging work. This plain research work has it’s highlights, for example when results perfectly match up. It may feel a bit boring, but the coffee breaks and board games made it worth the effort.

I would like to thank the whole team for being excellent colleagues and being so hospitable.

Coronal mass ejections

Coronal mass ejections or CMEs are huge bubbles of plasma threaded with magnetic field lines that are ejected from the sun’s corona into the heliosphere. CMEs are often associated with solar flares and other forms of solar activity. If a CME enters into interplanetary space it is referred to as an Interplanetary coronal mass ejection (ICME)

CMEs first form in the photosphere as massive arches called coronal loops spanning tens of thousands of kilometers in diameter, with magnetic field lines threading through them. These pre-eruption structures originate from magnetic fields generated by the solar dynamo in the sun’s interior. In order for these structures to develop, large amounts of energy will have to be stored. The majority of this energy will have to be stored as magnetic energy.

Credit: Wikipedia

Once a CME is ejected from the sun, It will travel anywhere from 200 km/s to even near 3000 km/s. Reaching Earth’s orbit within as little as 15 hours, but the average time a CME travels to the Earth’s orbit is 3 to 4 days. CME:s form into arches spanning 40o to 50o in width (on average), with magnetic field lines extending from the sun going through them in a sort of spiral.

Credit: Manchester et al., Space Science Reviews, 212, 1159–1219, 2017

Some CMEs gather particles from space and form a shockwave in front of them. Once CMEs collide with Earth’s magnetic field. It results in the shockwave causing a geomagnetic storm that may compress the Earth’s magnetosphere on the day side and extend it on the night side.

The importance of studying ICMEs solar flares and other space weather is that we can understand the sun’s magnetic field. It also helps us to understand more of the effects of ICMEs and large geomagnetic storms. It’s also important to study how to predict and prevent their effects for if one energetic enough was pointed at earth it potentially could knock the electricity grid unusable.

Sources: Wikipedia, Nasa.gov



TET trainee mapping the space weather chain 30.10.-10.11.2023

Miro Eggert spent his two weeks of vocational training in the space physics research group. Here is what he had to say about his experience:

Hello! I’m currently in 9th grade at Latokartanon peruskoulu. I spent my two weeks of vocational training in the space physics research group at the university of Helsinki. I wanted to come here, because I have been interested in space and physics for a long time. I have also dreamt about becoming a physicist for a bit now, and I wanted to see what it was like to be one.

What was my experience like? It was amazing. The place had a great atmosphere and everyone seemed kind. During the training I had a few jobs to do. First one of them was to make a poster about the physical phenomena that occur between the Sun and Earth. Second one was to do an excel about every spacecraft that are or no longer are in use, from the https://celestrak.org/satcat/ database.  Here is a picture of the poster:

The poster by Miro Eggert, describing the space weather chain and environment from the surface of the Sun all the to the Earth, with smaller postcards from the group’s researchers describing some of their work.

Being here for two weeks was very rewarding, because I got to learn so much new information about space and plasma physics. I also attended a few meetings and went to a few lectures. Some of the lectures were quite hard for me to understand, but some of them were easier to understand.

So after all the two weeks went really fast and it was really rewarding to be here. If you are interested in this and you have your TET-training incoming, then I would really recommend this place for you and I bet that you would have an interesting week.

Nordic Postdoctoral Plasma Physics Fellowship (NORPPA) in Space Physics and Astrophysics

Applications are invited for postdoctoral research positions as Nordic Postdoctoral Plasma Fellows (NORPPA Fellows) at the University of Helsinki, Finland. The selected fellows will lead an independent research program on a topic that has strong synergy with space physics research and/or plasma astrophysics conducted in Helsinki. We anticipate being able to offer multiple positions.

A successful applicant will work in a vibrant research environment with theoretical, observational, and computational research on space and astrophysical plasmas. The research of plasmas at the University of Helsinki is supported by numerous grants, including 3 ERC grants and the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence. The fellow will conduct research under the mentorship of professors in space physics (Minna Palmroth; https://www.helsinki.fi/en/researchgroups/vlasiator) and astrophysics (Joonas Nättilä; http://natj.github.io/group/).

Application process: The initial appointment will be for 2 years, with an anticipated renewal for a total of 4 years. The start date is flexible. The applicant should have a Ph.D. in space physics, computational physics, plasma physics, astrophysics, or a related field (by the appointment date).  Applicants should submit a CV with the list of publications, a research statement (max. 3 pages), and arrange for three reference letters to be sent directly by the referees. The research statement should summarize past research achievements and describe the planned research program. All application material should be sent to hewan.zewde(at)helsinki.fi with the subject title “NORPPA Fellowship Application 2023” by November 15, 2023. The University of Helsinki fosters equality, diversity, inclusion, and workplace well-being.

Helsinki: Finland has been selected as the happiest country six times and is one of the safest locations worldwide. We enjoy beautiful nature and the cleanest air in the world. Helsinki is an international city with many cultural and recreational activities and outstanding services for families and children.

Salary & Benefits:

The annual salary will be according to the University of Helsinki salary rules, including comprehensive occupational health care access. The fellows will also have ample travel funds and access to exceptional computing resources, including the pre-exascale supercomputer LUMI and a new, dedicated local computing cluster. In addition, the position includes a paid five weeks of vacation per year, paid sick leave, and an option for a paid 6-month parental leave (per parent).






JOB OPENING: PhD position in Solar & Space Physics – University of Helsinki, Finland

We invite applicants for a 4yrs PhD position at the University of Helsinki. The selected candidate will work for the recently funded Academy of Finland project SOFTCAT (Solar Open Flux Topology Comprehensive investigATion of the origin of the open field emanating from the Sun).

The start time of the position is September 2023. The application period is open until 30.06.2023.

About the project & the position: The key goal of project SOFCAT is to identify sources of open solar magnetic field stretching away from the Sun; one of the outstanding open questions in the field of solar and space physics. SOFTCAT will investigate the relevant physical processes taking place in different regions at the Sun, its atmosphere, and inner heliosphere, both from an observational and a fundamental plasma physics perspective. The selected candidate will contribute towards this research via simulations and observations.

Requirements: The applicant is expected to hold an MSc diploma in Physics, Astronomy & Astrophysics or relevant fields with a good study record. Interested candidates should send the following to Dr. Eleanna Asvestari (eleanna.asvestari@helsinki.fi):

  • Motivation letter
  • CV
  • BSc & MSc transcripts
  • 2-3 names to act as references

About the group: The Space Physics Group of the University of Helsinki is a leading European space physics group specialised both in observations and theoretical/computational modelling of space plasmas. It is an international working community that fosters a culture of equality, diversity, inclusion, and work-wellbeing. The group provides plenty of opportunities to grow hard and soft skills, such as computer programming and data visualisation, networking, communication, and leadership.

For specifics about the position, contact Dr. Eleanna Asvestari (eleanna.asvestari@helsinki.fi).

TET-trainee in science visualization, 12.12.-16.12.2022

Marius Junkkarinen participated in vocational training in the space physics group during a week in December, and writes:

Hey! I’m currently in 9th grade, at Järvenperän koulu. I spent my one week work practice here at University of Helsinki, with the Vlasiator space physics group in the department of physics. I decided to apply here, because I’ve been interested in space since I was little. I found out about this place by searching the websites of the Universities located in Espoo and Helsinki.

During the week I got to know what it’s like to be a space physicist. I also participated in a science meeting, and a few seminars, which were about fusion energy, astrophotography and space applications about plasma physics. My main project of the week was to take good looking 3D renders of velocity distribution functions using Blender, and then make a poster about that. Here’s a few photos about that.

Left: Old render and cross-sections; Right: New volumetric render with Blender

Overall, the week was very rewarding, as I learned a lot of new stuff. If your TET-week will be soon, and you are interested in space and physics, consider applying here! You can find contacts from here: https://www.helsinki.fi/fi/tutustu-meihin/ihmiset/henkilohaku. The people working here seem motivated to do their job.

Recruiting summer trainees for 2023

The UH Space Physics Group is recruiting summer trainees!

We are offering several positions which will challenge and inspire new space scientists, with topics ranging from solar eruptions such as coronal mass ejections to the complicated plasma dynamics of near-Earth space. Most projects will use either the world’s most accurate space weather simulation Vlasiator or the leading European space weather simulation EUHFORIA, both developed by members of our groups. Some projects will also include direct analysis of satellite observation datasets. Experience with Python and basics of plasma physics are a plus, but not required. Most positions provide an excellent topic for BSc or MSc theses!

A short overview of some of our offered topics are listed below, some full descriptions and staff members who can answer your questions can be found in our thesis section. Please indicate in your application which projects you are interested in and any preference between modelling, observations/data analysis or theory. Also, please indicate if you would like to do your BSc or MSc work based on your summer trainee work.

Please apply for these positions through the University of Helsinki Department of Physics summer trainee application system by 31.1.2023! These positions are open only to students enrolled at the University of Helsinki.

Continue reading “Recruiting summer trainees for 2023”

Kiinnostaako avaruusfysiikka?

TET-harjoittelijat Anna Pärssinen ja Aurora Airaksinen tekivät myös haastattelun Kumpulan kampuksella. He haastattelivat opiskelijoita tarkoituksena selvittää mitä he ajattelivat avaruusfysiikasta. 

Kysymykset olivat

  • Kuinka kiinnostavalta avaruusfysiikka kuulostaa asteikolla 1-10?
  • Mikä on ensimmäinen asia, joka tulee mieleen avaruusfysiikasta?

Kyselyyn vastasi yhteensä 30 henkilöä, joiden pääaineet vaihtelivat fysiikasta taloustieteeseen ja psykologiaan. 

Keskiarvoksi avaruusfysiikan kiinnostavuus sai 8 (keskihajonta 1.7). Kun ottaa huomioon asteikon (1-10) tämä taitaa olla ihan hyvä tulos.  Vastauksien jakautumisen näkee alla olevasta kaaviosta

Toiseen kysymykseen tuli runsaasti erilaisia vastauksia.

Continue reading “Kiinnostaako avaruusfysiikka?”

Säteilyvyöt ja avaruusfysiikkaa

Helsingin yliopiston avaruusfysiikan ryhmässä vieraili 14-18.11.2022 kaksi TET-harjoittelijaa yläasteelta (Anna Pärssinen Sipoonlahden koulusta ja Aurora Airaksinen Viikin normaalikoulusta). He tutustuivat ryhmän toimintaan ja tekivät Maata ympäröiviin säteilyvöihin liittyvän pienen tutkimustyön. Aiheen taustoihin perehtyäkseen he etsivät ensin tietoa tärkeimmistä käsitteistä ja kirjoittivat näistä esittelyt. Alla on heidän kirjoittama teksti 

Kirjoittajat: Anna Pärssinen ja Aurora Airaksinen 


Aurinkotuuli tarkoittaa sitä, että aurinko puhaltaa jatkuvana virtana avaruuteen kaasukehänsä päällimmäisiä osia ja samalla magneettikenttäänsä. Auringosta tulevan tuulen suuntautuessa kohti maapalloa ja kohdatessa Maan magneettikenttän, erilaisen tapahtumien seurauksena syntyy revontulia. Aurinkotuulen ominaisuudet vaihtelevat paljon Auringon tapahtumista riippuen, eli Auringolla on aktiivisempia ja rauhallisempia vaiheita. Kuitenkin jonkinlainen hiukkasvirta on olemassa koko ajan.

Aurinkotuuli koostuu plasmasta, eli sähköisesti varautuneiden elektronien ja protonien (vetyatomin ydinten) muodostamasta kaasusta. Aurinkotuulen seassa on myös heliumytimiä (noin 8%) ja vähän muita Auringon sisältämiä raskaampia alkuaineita.

Aurinkotuulen nopeus vaihtelee, mutta se on keskimäärin 300-400 km/h. Se voi kuitenkin nousta enimmillään jopa 1000 km/h. Sillä kestää noin 2-4 päivää saapua Auringosta Maan etäisyydelle. Aurinkotuulen tiheys Maan etäisyydellä on noin 5-10 hiukkasta per kuutiosenttimetri. Maan ilmakehän tiheys merenpinnan tasolla puolestaan on noin 1,225 kg kuutiometriä kohden. Se on siis paljon tiheämpi kuin aurinkotuulen tiheys maapallon etäisyydellä.

Auringosta lähtee jatkuva aurinkotuuli ja erilaisia purkauksia (credit: NASA)

Continue reading “Säteilyvyöt ja avaruusfysiikkaa”

My work practice in the UH space physics team

During the first week of October, Friia from the South Botnia Waldorf / Steiner school visited our research group, to participate in a week of vocational traning and experiencing life as a space physicist!

Hello! I am Friia, 8th grade student from Etelä-Pohjanmaan Steiner-koulu, and I spent a wonderful week in the space physics team of University of Helsinki doing my work practice for this year. I’ve always been interested in space, and that’s why I got an idea to come here during my school’s work practice period.

I had to do some tasks during the week. For example I had to do classification about velocity distributions in the simulation EGI from some time point and name and classify those classes according to the shape of, and structures in their cross-sections. After that I made a poster about my analysis.

There are some of most interesting shapes that i noticed, and names that I gave to them:


Continue reading “My work practice in the UH space physics team”

JOB OPENING: Two positions (postdoc and a PhD student) in Space Physics Group at the Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Finland

The Space Physics Group of the University of Helsinki is a leading European group specialised both in computational modelling and in spacecraft observations. We have developed the global magnetospheric beyond-MHD simulation Vlasiator.

We have recently completed the first 6-dimensional runs of the entire magnetosphere-ionosphere system, offering high-resolution results both from the 3D real space as well as from the 3D velocity space. Our first runs show how the ion-kinetic physics at small scales lead to global reconfigurations, and vice versa. We can also study how changes in the ionosphere influence ion-kinetic physics within the magnetosphere.

We are excited to open two positions, as follows:

(1) A postdoctoral fellow position for a 2-year project, with a possibility of extension pending funding situation and performance. The postdoctoral fellow will focus on the 3D reconnection process within the simulation, looking both at the dayside and tail reconnection which occur simultaneously in the same simulation box.

(2) A PhD student will study the same processes as the postdoctoral fellow. This position is for four years, which is the nominal length of a Finnish PhD thesis project. The PhD student will write original papers that will comprise the thesis.

Prior knowledge and useful skills: Physics of magnetic reconnection, model development and/or data analysis, Python.

We offer a position in a dynamic and international research group, with a possibility to network and to develop as a researcher. We are innovative, high-spirited and a welcoming community. Finland is the happiest country in the world offering a great environment fostering equality, equality of opportunities, the world’s best schooling system, vacations, and possibilities for work-family balance.

The positions are available immediately. We start reviewing the applications on 14 November, but the positions will remain open until filled. Interviews are held in Nov-Dec.

 For more information, please visit:




For specifics about the position, contact Minna Palmroth (minna.palmroth(at)helsinki.fi). Interested candidates should send their informal application, CV, list of publications, and a maximum of three names to act as references to Hewan.Zewde(at)helsinki.fi by 11 Nov 2022, and cc minna.palmroth(at)helsinki.fi.