Dr. Miho Janvier – Solar & Space Physicist
Evan as she was studying in university, and starting her career as a scientist and researcher as a “solar storm chaser”, Dr. Miho Janvier never imagined in her wildest dreams that she would work on a space mission… Then it happened!
A few years ago, she joined the ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter mission, and in February 2020 the mission launched into space. In the video above Dr. Janvier shares a behind the scenes look at working on a space mission, including a few snapshots she took when she got to meet the spacecraft in real life and saw it launched into space. Solar Orbiter is currently on its way closer to the Sun, and she’s excited that the coming years they’ll be gathering more data to study her favourite subject, the Sun!
Where to start!
She studies the Sun and how its activity influences the solar system. She’s especially interested in big clouds of solar material sent through space called “Coronal Mass Ejections” (but, she prefers calling them solar storms 😉).
Solar Orbiter is going to collect different forms of data. Some of the data will be images of the sun, images taken closer than ever before. Other data will be In-Situ data. This data is basically data collected around the space craft itself. The combination creates a really interesting mission as it not only surveys the sun, but also everything that is coming from the sun and passing the trajectory of the space craft. This can give a lot of insight into solar storms.
So… what did she work on for the mission?
Dr. Janvier worked on different instruments for the space mission. One of the main ones is called SPICE, which is a spectrograph. What is a spectrograph? Well, it analyzes the spectrum of the light that comes from the sun.
The Solar Orbiter mission journey
October 2019, IABG in Germany
This is where the Solar Orbitar space craft was initially, and where Dr. Janvier first saw it. IABG is a facility that recreates the conditions of first launch and space. (check out min 2:30ish in the video to see the facility and how the testing is done!)
When in the facility, head and clothing protection must be worn in order to see/be near the space craft. Solar Orbiter is kept must be kept in a clean environment and behind glass.
Prefer to have Dr. Janvier personally explain the different parts and functions of the space craft?
Check out min 3:00 of the video 😎 Her excitement at seeing it in person is pretty contagious!
End of October 2019, Solar Orbitar heads to the U.S.
Check it out getting packed up and sent off in the video
February 2020, Time for Solar Orbiter to fly!
Dr. Janvier hopped on a plane in Paris and headed to Cocoa Beach, Florida for the launch. The process started with a 2 day meeting with all the instrument team members. They all gathered in the same room to discuss what was going to happen when Solar Orbiter launched in just a few days.
Weird fact… the Solar Orbiter meeting was in the Mars room?
As the launch keeps getting delayed, the missing team members keep their fingers crossed… Through all sorts of meetings, ex the science working team getting together with all the instrument teams, etc. Once the work was over, the teams did a bit of outreach including getting the public out to the Kennedy Space Center to talk about the launch! Dr. Janvier also presented her virtual reality project that she’s been working on for a few months prior.
How did the team get hyped up? Check out their playlist on Spotify – We Are All Solar Orbiters
Watch the Launch! (min 6:25)
For obvious reasons, Dr. Janvier was a little too excited to sleep 😊 At Banana Creek, Solar Orbiter sits on the launch pad on top of the Saturn 5 rocket ready to go. People gather in the stands, ready and waiting…
And then, off it goes!!
So… How did the Solar Orbiter launch go?
Great! Dr. Janvier was so excited to see the launch, and was amazed as the trajectory headed towards the full moon. Everything could be seen so clearly, and the smoke underneath the rocket was brightly illuminated. Seated next to other scientists who had been working on the project as well, it was an emotional moment. Definitely a would do again!
Hope you enjoyed the sneak peek!
As you can see, science can be really exciting (and even a little emotional). This video and break down is an inside look into real scientists getting the opportunity to not only participate in a space mission, but see their hard work launch into space first hand.
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