Forecasting space storms protects satellites and predicts aurora borealis

Professor Emilia Kilpua observes plasma clouds ejected by the Sun, whose effects are also seen in the belts of radiation surrounding Earth.

What are your research topics?

I study enormous clouds of plasma ejected by the Sun. Among other things, I investigate how they are ejected, what they are like and how they travel and change on their journey through interplanetary space.

I also study their effect on space weather, especially the dramatic changes in the Van Allen radiation belts surrounding Earth.

Where and how does the topic of your research have an impact?

Ejection clouds hitting Earth often cause a space storm, resulting in gorgeous aurora borealis but also harmful space weather effects which are detrimental, for example, to satellites.

My group’s research helps better forecast such storms.

What is particularly inspiring in your field right now?

I am inspired by new solar observations. The Solar Orbiter, Parker Solar Probe and BepiColombo probes, among others, provide unprecedented measurements of the Sun and solar wind.

The models developed by my group enable us to investigate in more detail why the ejections happen as well as predict their magnetic fields.

Our research combines practical applications and fundamental plasma physics.

Emilia Kilpua is a professor of space physics at the Faculty of Science.

Watch Emilia Kilpua’s inaugural lecture as a new professor on 26.5.2021 on YouTube.

Read about the other newly appointed professors.