C
A Notional Science Research Agenda

Origins—the beginnings of the universe, our solar system, other planetary systems, and life.

  • The Big Bang, the structure and composition of the universe including the formation of galaxies and the origin of dark matter and dark energy.

  • Nebular composition and evolution—gravitational collapse and stellar ignition.

  • Formation of our solar system and other planetary systems—clues to the origin of the solar system found in meteorites, cosmic dust, asteroids, comets, Kuiper Belt objects, and samples of planetary surfaces.

  • Pre-biotic solar system organic chemistry—locations, histories, and processes; emergence of life on Earth; interplay between geological and astronomical processes.

Evolution—how the components of the universe have changed with time, including the physical, chemical, and biological processes that have affected it, and the sequences of major events.

  • The universe—processes that influence and produce large-scale structure, from subnuclear to galactic scales.

  • Stellar evolution—nucleosynthesis and evolutionary sequences, including the influence of particles and fields on the space environment.

  • Planetary evolution—the roles of impact, volcanism, tectonics, and orbital or rotational dynamics in shaping planetary surfaces; structure of planetary interiors.

  • Comparative planetology—study of Earth as a terrestrial planet; divergence of evolutionary paths of Earth, Venus, and Mars; comparisons of giant planets and extrasolar planets.

  • Atmospheres—early evolution and interaction with hydrospheres; long-term changes and stability.

  • Search for habitable environments—identification and characterization of environments potentially suitable for the past existence and present sustenance of biogenic activity.

NOTE: Adapted from A Journey to Inspire, Innovate, and Discover: Report of the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy, ISBN 0-16-073075-9, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 2004.



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Solar and Space Physics and Its Role in Space Exploration C A Notional Science Research Agenda Origins—the beginnings of the universe, our solar system, other planetary systems, and life. The Big Bang, the structure and composition of the universe including the formation of galaxies and the origin of dark matter and dark energy. Nebular composition and evolution—gravitational collapse and stellar ignition. Formation of our solar system and other planetary systems—clues to the origin of the solar system found in meteorites, cosmic dust, asteroids, comets, Kuiper Belt objects, and samples of planetary surfaces. Pre-biotic solar system organic chemistry—locations, histories, and processes; emergence of life on Earth; interplay between geological and astronomical processes. Evolution—how the components of the universe have changed with time, including the physical, chemical, and biological processes that have affected it, and the sequences of major events. The universe—processes that influence and produce large-scale structure, from subnuclear to galactic scales. Stellar evolution—nucleosynthesis and evolutionary sequences, including the influence of particles and fields on the space environment. Planetary evolution—the roles of impact, volcanism, tectonics, and orbital or rotational dynamics in shaping planetary surfaces; structure of planetary interiors. Comparative planetology—study of Earth as a terrestrial planet; divergence of evolutionary paths of Earth, Venus, and Mars; comparisons of giant planets and extrasolar planets. Atmospheres—early evolution and interaction with hydrospheres; long-term changes and stability. Search for habitable environments—identification and characterization of environments potentially suitable for the past existence and present sustenance of biogenic activity. NOTE: Adapted from A Journey to Inspire, Innovate, and Discover: Report of the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy, ISBN 0-16-073075-9, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 2004.

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Solar and Space Physics and Its Role in Space Exploration Fate—what the lessons of galactic, stellar, and planetary history tell about the future and our place in the universe. Biology of species in space—micro- and fractional gravity, long-term effects of exposure to variable gravity; radiation; avoidance and mitigation strategies. Impact threat—cataloguing and classification of near-Earth objects; estimation of the recent impact flux and its variations; flux variation with position in solar system; hazard avoidance and mitigation. Natural hazard assessment—advanced space-based characterization of meteorological, oceanic, and solid Earth natural hazards to diminish consequences and advance toward predictive capability. Temporal variations in solar output—monitoring and interpretation of space weather as relevant to consequence and predictability. Climate change—assessment of recent climatic variations; solar controls on climate change; quantitative modeling and testing of the greenhouse effect; and possible effects on planets and life. Long-term variations of solar system environment—galactic rotation and secular variations; local supernovae.