Geology & Earth Science

Geology & Earth Science Experts

Pekka Janhunen

Research manager
Finnish Meteorological Institute


Dr. Janhunen received his PhD on space plasma physics from University of Helsinki in 1994, the thesis topic was electrostatic simulation of ionospheric E-region irregularities and MHD simulation of ionosphere-magnetosphere coupling. Thereafter Janhunen started to develop a global MHD-based ionosphere-magnetosphere coupling model “GUMICS” which was essentially completed in 1999-2000 and is in active use today. Starting from 2000 he developed also hybrid plasma simulations for Mars and other unmagnetised planets, various other plasma simulations for auroral physics as well as analysed lots of satellite plasma physics data in collaboration with Swedish and other scientists. He also made some contributions to astrobiological fields and in 2006 led a collaborative study which formulated a biosphere-geosphere interaction model for the evolutionary pressure required for the birth of multicellular life. In recent years he has mainly worked with the electric solar wind sail deep-space propulsion method which he invented in 2004-2006.

Research Interest

Astrobiology, Space plasma physics, MHD simulation, particle-in-cell simulation, hybrid simulation, auroral physics, magnetospheric physics, electric solar wind sail propulsion, space technology.


  • Aalto - 1: a hyperspectral Earth observing nanosatellite , Heikki Saari , Pekka Janhunen , 2011

  • Status report of the electric sail in 2009, Pekka Janhunen , Acta Astronautica - ACTA ASTRONAUT , vol. 68, no. 5, pp. 567 - 570, 2011

  • Optimal interplanetary rendezvous combining electric sail and high thrust propulsion system ,Alessandro A. Quarta , Giovanni Mengali , Pekka Janhunen , Acta Astronautica , vol . 68, no. 5, pp. 603 - 621, 2011.

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