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Video: Getting Along With Space Weather

Professor of Computational Space Physics Minna Palmroth, chair of the Millennium Technology Prize, talks about what space weather research is.

My name is Minna Palmroth, and I’m a professor of space physics of computational space physics in the University of Helsinki and Finnish Meteorological Institute. And my job is to understand near Earth space.

Nowadays, society is critically dependent on space, and also many companies are dependent on space. We are using such as navigation technologies on our mobile devices, which are based on space-born technology. They are based on satellite links, which come from spacecraft and come to your phone. Similarly, as companies here on Earth want to know what the weather is like in here, the companies which are operating in space want to know what space is like and what is the environmental condition in space. So my job is to understand that.

Actually space is a big megatrend right now. We are seeing more spacecraft launches than ever before in the human history, and we are becoming much more dependent on space. We are already very dependent. In the future we are even more dependent, and that is why it is important to understand space as part of our system. It’s actually not something which is there and we don’t have to care about it. It belongs to our Earth.

Understanding space helps us to understand our global environment. Sometimes our sun sends very large eruptions and which then cause problems here at Earth. They can cause blackouts on power networks or deteriorate satellite signals or radar signals, and that is called space weather. And my job is to understand the impacts of space weather so that we can actually mitigate the risks that are posed by space to the society. Technologies that we humans have developed need to be celebrated, and we should be proud of these technologies because they are going to change our lives and our future.

Partners of the Millennium Technology Prize