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A Statement of Task Background: The last integrated strategy for solar and space physics was released by the NRC in 1995. Since that time, there have been dramatic scientific developments and a significant evolution in relevant federal programs. In the space arena these developments stem from the launches and successful operation of the Wind, Geotail, SOHO, Polar, FAST, ACE, TRACE, IMAGE, and Cluster-II missions. These missions have helped revolutionize solar physics, provide a new level of understanding of important processes in space plasma physics, and create a new basis for characterizing and predicting space weather. Over the same period, the relevant federal agencies have taken steps to build on the new level of scientific progress by embarking on new efforts such as the National Space Weather Program, the Relocatable Radar (formerly the Polar Cap Observatory), and Living with a Star. Furthermore, the NSF Geospace Environment Modeling (GEM) program has initiated its second and third campaigns, the international Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) has established effective collaboration among a large number of high-frequency radar programs; and the community-wide Solar, Heliospheric, and Interplanetary Environment (SHINE) initiative has spawned a number of important activities related to the National Space Weather Program. As a consequence of all these developments, the preparation of a comprehensive scientific assessment and strategy for the field of solar and space physics that looks across the interests of all agencies, both ground- and space-based, is especially timely. Plan: The study will be organized in a manner similar to the ’decadal survey’ that is regularly conducted by the astronomy and astrophysics community. The Committee on Solar and Space Physics will establish a 14-person survey committee to carry out the study with input from five panels, each of which will have approximately 10 members. Most Committee on Solar and Space Physics members will serve either on the survey committee
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or the panels, with additional membership drawn from the relevant research communities. The study will generate consensus recommendations from the solar and space physics community regarding a systems approach to theoretical, ground-based, and space-based research that encompasses the flight programs and focused campaigns of NASA, the ground-based and basic research programs of NSF, and the complementary operational programs of other agencies such as NOAA, DOD, and DOE. During this study, the community will survey solar and space physics and recommend priorities for the decade 2003-2013. Attention will be given to effective implementation of proposed and existing programs and to the human resource aspects of the field involving education, career opportunities, and public outreach. Promising areas for the development of new technologies will be suggested. A minor but important part of the study will be the review of complementary initiatives of other nations in order to identify potential cooperative programs. An important aspect of the study’s consideration of operational programs will be an assessment of how the research programs of NASA and NSF can serve both to provide the operational tools of agencies such as NOAA and DOD and to provide training for future expert staff for those agencies. The study will consider how the science of solar and space physics can lead to new forecast tools and products that have the potential of making the space weather program more operational, and it will identify appropriate next steps to accomplish the transition from research to operations. Three of the five panels will be organized around interdisciplinary science themes: magnetosphere-ionosphere-atmosphere interactions, solar wind-magnetosphere interactions, and solar and heliospheric physics. Each of these panels will consider theory and computation as well as ground-based and space-based research. The first two panels will cover both terrestrial and planetary objectives. The three science panels will be complemented by two cross-disciplinary panels: theory, computation, and data exploration, and education and society.
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The survey committee will be responsible for preparing a summary report. The reports of the study panels along with the summary report will be published by the National Research Council. One important goal of these reports is to address the scientific foundation and priorities for the implementation of major NASA programs such as Living with a Star, Solar-Terrestrial Probes, Solar Probe, and Interstellar Probe; and major NSF facilities such as the Relocatable Radar. In conducting its work, the CSSP would draw on an extensive history of prior studies performed by the Space Studies Board, including: Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium (Astronomy and Astrophysics Survey Report ) and Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium: Panel Reports (2002). (Survey and panel reports are joint projects of the SSB and the NRC Board on Astronomy and Astrophysics.) Readiness for the Upcoming Solar Maximum (1998). Ground-Based Solar Research: An Assessment and Strategy for the Future (1998). Scientific Assessment of NASA’s SMEX and MIDEX Space Physics Mission Selections (1997). An Assessment of the Solar and Space Physics Aspects of NASA’s Space Science Enterprise Strategic Plan (1997). Space Weather: A Research Briefing (Web report, 1997). A Science Strategy for Space Physics (1995).
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