The Finnish Meteorological Institute is planning to become the first in the world to run a large-scale “space weather” simulator. Vlasiator is the world’s first simulation based on the Vlasov equation that can create a model of the Earth’s entire magnetic field in three dimensions, while at the same time creating particle distributions in six dimensions.
With the computing time we have received, it’s like switching from a compact car to the world’s most powerful vehicle,” said Minna Palmroth, the Earth observation programme director at FMI who is leading the Vlasiator project. “Using these resources, we’ll be the first in the world to run a large-scale space simulation where even small-scale phenomena can be seen accurately for the first time ever. For example, we’ll see the properties of the shock wave surrounding the magnetosphere much more accurately than before. Our preliminary results have already shown that small-scale phenomena in plasma may play an important role in the formation of the shock. This may also affect the properties of plasma flowing into the magnetic field.”