tinent to the environments of Earth, the Moon, and Mars; to identify compelling research goals necessary to ensure the success of the Vision for Space Exploration in these environments; and to discuss the directions that research in these fields should take over the coming decades in order to achieve these goals. The workshop effectively recognized that a multidisciplinary approach to defining the challenges of human exploration is required because no single National Academy of Sciences decadal survey or combination of surveys provides the type of advice needed for the new programs that are anticipated under the Vision for Space Exploration. Also, no single scientific or engineering discipline can provide the expertise and knowledge necessary to solve these problems optimally.
The workshop placed particular emphasis on the following topics:
The heliospheric radiation environment as understood to date, including required data sources and possible new measurements;
Physical mechanisms of energetic particle acceleration and transport in the heliosphere as understood to date;
Radiation health hazards to astronauts;
Radiation effects on materials and spacecraft systems; and
Mitigation techniques and strategies, including forecasting and operational schemes.
A central theme that emerged during the workshop, both in the formal presentations in the plenary sessions and in focused discussions in thematically organized working groups, is the importance of the timely prediction of the radiation environment for mission design and mission operations. There was general agreement among the participants that it is in this area that the solar and space physics community can, through improved characterization and understanding of the sources of space radiation, contribute substantively to NASA’s radiation management effort and to the Vision for Space Exploration. This statement may seem self-evident, but many workshop participants noted that it represented a change in attitude from previous community meetings. During the workshop, many of the participants focused for the first time in decades on ways that their research corresponds with NASA’s needs to support humans traveling beyond low Earth orbit. Among the points that the workshop participants agreed on were the following:
Developing timely predictions of the radiation environment is a complex task whose components vary depending on the timescale considered and on the mission characteristics;
Delivering timely predictions requires advances in basic space and solar physics, development of observational assets, improved modeling capabilities, and careful design of communications;
The space operations community—that is, those who plan and manage human spaceflight missions—must be informed about these advances in understanding and expanding capabilities so that operators can take advantage of advances; and
In some cases operational tools (i.e., tools for space operations) must be developed or adapted from scientific analytical tools and converted to real-time reporting tools; the transition from research to operations is a very challenging task.
The workshop effectively assessed the following topics: the current level of understanding of solar and space physics; the issues faced by the NASA space radiation program as it deals with radiation effects on humans; the challenges of ensuring the reliable functioning of instruments and machines in space; and how progress can be made in understanding, defining, and, ultimately, making timely predictions of the space radiation environment.