Sini Merikallio is a space technology engineer, scientist, and veterinarian with a rich background in research and development. She conducted research on the Martian atmosphere in collaboration with scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Her Master’s thesis, focused on the application of solar panels on Mars, was completed during her participation in the Mars Desert Research Station simulation in the Utah desert. After graduating from the Helsinki University of Technology, she joined the European Space Agency’s Technology Center (ESTEC) in the Netherlands, where she analyzed satellite observations of Earth’s plasma environment. Returning to the Finnish Meteorological Institute, she specialized in Earth’s atmosphere and climate change, completing a PhD thesis on computer modeling of light scattering by atmospheric dust particles.
Dr. Merikallio was part of the NASA Curiosity Mars Rover science team and the MetNet Mars lander development team. Moreover, she was deeply involved in pioneering research on the electric solar wind sail (E-sail) propulsion technology. Merikallio gained recognition by winning the “Move an asteroid” competition organized by the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) for her proposal to utilize the Electric Solar Wind Sail in redirecting an Earth-threatening asteroid. In addition to her scientific pursuits, she actively engages in popular science television and radio programs, regularly appearing as a guest on a television science talk show. She has twice applied to become an astronaut in the European Space Agency selections, reaching the top 200 and top 100 out of 8,000 and 23,000 applicants, respectively.
Dr. Merikallio recently followed her passion for animals by pursuing veterinary medicine studies and has been working as a veterinarian since 2018. Currently, she divides her time between the Helsinki University production animal clinic and a private small animal clinic. This allows her to maintain a wide focus and develop skills to be ready for whatever challenges life brings her way.