Ground-Based Solar Astronomy

U.S. solar astronomy is undergoing major changes with the commitment to construct the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope and the associated plan to close several existing facilities as well as to reorganize the National Solar Observatory. There have been great advances in space-based solar astronomy, most recently with the successful launch and deployment of the Solar Dynamics Observatory. In addition, there is a growing interest in the solar-terrestrial connection associated with climate research. These changes imply that it is time to reevaluate the management of the U.S. program.

RECOMMENDATION: NSF should work with the solar, heliospheric, stellar, planetary, and geospace communities to determine the best route to an effective and balanced ground-based solar astronomy program that maintains multidisciplinary ties. Such coordination will be essential in developing funding models for the long-term operation of major solar facilities such as the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope and Frequency-Agile Solar Radiotelescope, and in the development of next-generation instrumentation for them along with the funding of associated theory, modeling, and simulation science.

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