ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Miho Janvier - Space physicist
TED Fellow Miho Janvier studies the the Sun -- in particular the origin of phenomena called "solar storms" which can impact planets in the solar system.

Why you should listen

Miho Janvier is a space physicist at the Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale, France. Her work focuses on the understanding of when solar flares occur, how solar storms travel in space and how they impact planetary environments in the solar system and other star systems. In a nutshell, she works towards a better prediction of "space weather," with a goal of better understanding the influence of the Sun's activity on human societies. She uses data from space missions from NASA, ESA and JAXA as well as develop 3D computer models of solar eruptions.

Janvier is involved as the deputy project scientist on the instrument SPICE as well as a scientific co-Investigator on the instrument EUI on board Solar Orbiter, the next European Space Agency mission to explore the winds and storms coming out from the Sun. Her passion for astrophysics and science communication has led her to partner with the movie production company TreeHouse Digital Ltd to develop a 360 degrees experience of a solar storm using science data and VFX. This video runs in virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift or Youtube 360, with a goal of educating the public about space science.

More profile about the speaker
Miho Janvier | Speaker | TED.com
TEDGlobal 2017

Miho Janvier: Lessons from a solar storm chaser

Filmed:
1,106,943 views

Space physicist Miho Janvier studies solar storms: giant clouds of particles that escape from the Sun and can disrupt life on Earth (while also producing amazing auroras). How do you study the atmosphere on the Sun, which burns at temperatures of up to around 10 million degrees Kelvin? With math! Join the TED Fellow as she shares her work trying to better understand how the Sun affects us here on Earth.
- Space physicist
TED Fellow Miho Janvier studies the the Sun -- in particular the origin of phenomena called "solar storms" which can impact planets in the solar system. Full bio

Double-click the English transcript below to play the video.

00:13
It is almost the end of the winter,
0
1927
2930
00:16
and you've woken up to a cold house,
1
4881
2571
00:19
which is weird, because
you left the heater on all night.
2
7476
3397
00:24
You turn on the light.
3
12124
1301
00:25
It's not working.
4
13449
1250
00:27
Actually, the coffee maker, the TV --
none of them are working.
5
15252
5267
00:33
Life outside also seems to have stopped.
6
21249
2483
00:36
There are no schools,
7
24796
1828
00:38
most of the businesses are shut,
8
26648
2241
00:40
and there are no working trains.
9
28913
2026
00:43
This is not the opening scene
of a zombie apocalypse movie.
10
31852
3706
00:48
This is what happened in March 1989
in the Canadian province of Quebec,
11
36332
5912
00:54
when the power grid lost power.
12
42268
2680
00:57
The culprit?
13
45523
1163
00:59
A solar storm.
14
47106
1198
01:01
Solar storms are giant clouds of particles
15
49551
3063
01:04
escaping from the Sun from time to time,
16
52638
2278
01:06
and a constant reminder that we live
in the neighborhood of an active star.
17
54940
5349
01:13
And I, as a solar physicist,
18
61157
2608
01:15
I have a tremendous chance
to study these solar storms.
19
63789
3720
01:19
But you see, "solar storm chaser"
20
67533
2721
01:22
is not just a cool title.
21
70278
1672
01:24
My research helps to understand
where they come from,
22
72799
3636
01:28
how they behave
23
76459
1444
01:29
and, in the long run,
24
77927
1175
01:31
aims to mitigate their effects
on human societies,
25
79126
2998
01:34
which I'll get to in a second.
26
82148
1682
01:37
At the beginning of the space
exploration age 50 years ago only,
27
85106
5544
01:42
the probes we sent in space
28
90674
2158
01:44
revealed that the planets
in our Solar System
29
92856
2814
01:47
constantly bathe in a stream of particles
that are coming from the Sun
30
95694
4450
01:52
and that we call the solar wind.
31
100168
2601
01:55
And in the same way that global wind
patterns here on Earth
32
103722
3617
01:59
can be affected by hurricanes,
33
107363
2198
02:01
the solar wind is sometimes
affected by solar storms
34
109585
3761
02:05
that I like to call "space hurricanes."
35
113370
3176
02:09
When they arrive at planets,
36
117687
1953
02:11
they can perturb the space environment,
37
119664
2225
02:13
which in turn creates
the northern or southern lights,
38
121913
3285
02:17
for example, here on Earth,
39
125222
2188
02:19
but also Saturn
40
127434
1868
02:21
and also Jupiter.
41
129953
1953
02:25
Luckily, here on Earth,
42
133151
2688
02:27
we are protected
by our planet's natural shield,
43
135863
3091
02:30
a magnetic bubble that we call
the magnetosphere
44
138978
3111
02:34
and that you can see here
on the right side.
45
142113
2378
02:37
Nonetheless, solar storms
can still be responsible
46
145281
3248
02:40
for disrupting satellite
telecommunications and operations,
47
148553
4614
02:45
for disrupting navigation
systems, such as GPS,
48
153191
3605
02:48
as well as electric power transmission.
49
156820
2481
02:51
All of these are technologies
on which us humans rely more and more.
50
159895
5854
02:58
I mean, imagine if you woke up tomorrow
without a working cell phone --
51
166420
4463
03:03
no internet on it,
52
171692
1553
03:05
which means no social media.
53
173269
2506
03:07
I mean, to me that would be worse
than the zombie apocalypse.
54
175799
2924
03:10
(Laughter)
55
178747
1208
03:12
By constantly monitoring the Sun, though,
56
180605
2095
03:14
we now know where
the solar storms come from.
57
182724
2391
03:17
They come from regions of the Sun
58
185753
1945
03:19
where a tremendous amount
of energy is being stored.
59
187722
3292
03:23
You have an example here,
60
191038
1512
03:24
as a complex structure
hanging above the solar surface,
61
192574
3810
03:28
just on the verge of erupting.
62
196408
2421
03:31
Unfortunately, we cannot send probes
63
199877
2886
03:34
in the scorching hot
atmosphere of the Sun,
64
202787
3419
03:38
where temperatures can rise
up to around 10 million degrees Kelvin.
65
206230
5208
03:44
So what I do is I use computer simulations
66
212227
4211
03:48
in order to analyze but also to predict
the behavior of these storms
67
216462
4833
03:53
when they're just born at the Sun.
68
221319
2781
03:57
This is only one part
of the story, though.
69
225421
2597
04:01
When these solar storms
are moving in space,
70
229486
3858
04:05
some of them will inevitably
encounter space probes
71
233368
3606
04:08
that we humans have sent
in order to explore other worlds.
72
236998
4608
04:14
What I mean by other worlds is,
for example, planets,
73
242105
2833
04:16
such as Venus or Mercury,
74
244962
2100
04:19
but also objects, such as comets.
75
247086
2720
04:22
And while these space probes
have been made
76
250584
2586
04:25
for different scientific endeavors,
77
253194
2711
04:27
they can also act like tiny
cosmic meteorological stations
78
255929
5137
04:33
and monitor the evolution
of these space storms.
79
261090
2993
04:36
So I, with a group of researchers,
gather and analyze this data
80
264979
5335
04:42
coming from different
locations of the Solar System.
81
270338
3049
04:45
And by doing so, my research
shows that, actually,
82
273411
3316
04:48
solar storms have a generic shape,
83
276751
2088
04:50
and that this shape evolves
as solar storms move away from the Sun.
84
278863
4505
04:55
And you know what?
85
283392
1155
04:56
This is key for building tools
to predict space weather.
86
284571
5333
05:03
I would like to leave you
with this beautiful image.
87
291420
3085
05:06
This is us here on Earth,
88
294529
2409
05:09
this pale blue dot.
89
297692
1317
05:11
And while I study the Sun
and its storms every day,
90
299736
3664
05:15
I will always have a deep love
for this beautiful planet --
91
303424
3926
05:20
a pale blue dot indeed,
92
308076
1391
05:21
but a pale blue dot
with an invisible magnetic shield
93
309491
3884
05:25
that helps to protect us.
94
313399
2206
05:27
Thank you.
95
315629
1306
05:28
(Applause)
96
316959
3341

▲Back to top

ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Miho Janvier - Space physicist
TED Fellow Miho Janvier studies the the Sun -- in particular the origin of phenomena called "solar storms" which can impact planets in the solar system.

Why you should listen

Miho Janvier is a space physicist at the Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale, France. Her work focuses on the understanding of when solar flares occur, how solar storms travel in space and how they impact planetary environments in the solar system and other star systems. In a nutshell, she works towards a better prediction of "space weather," with a goal of better understanding the influence of the Sun's activity on human societies. She uses data from space missions from NASA, ESA and JAXA as well as develop 3D computer models of solar eruptions.

Janvier is involved as the deputy project scientist on the instrument SPICE as well as a scientific co-Investigator on the instrument EUI on board Solar Orbiter, the next European Space Agency mission to explore the winds and storms coming out from the Sun. Her passion for astrophysics and science communication has led her to partner with the movie production company TreeHouse Digital Ltd to develop a 360 degrees experience of a solar storm using science data and VFX. This video runs in virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift or Youtube 360, with a goal of educating the public about space science.

More profile about the speaker
Miho Janvier | Speaker | TED.com