Solar and space physics is the study of solar system phenomena that occur in the plasma state. Examples include sunspots, the solar wind, planetary magnetospheres, radiation belts, and the aurora. While each is a distinct phenomenon, there are commonalities among them. To help define and systematize these universal aspects of the field of space physics, the National Research Council was asked by NASA s Office of Space Science to provide a scientific assessment and strategy for the study of magnetized plasmas in the solar system. This report presents that assessment. It covers a number of important research goals for solar and space physics. The report is complementary to the NRC report, The Sun to the Earth and Beyond: A Decadal Research Strategy for Solar and Space Physics, which presents priorities and strategies for future program activities.