This survey committee’s white-paper process and the subsequent disciplinary panel studies brought forward a number of important heliophysics projects that would require a new midscale funding line. The examples below illustrate the kind of science that the line could enable. The survey committee chose not to explicitly rank these projects but notes that the first two have well-developed science and implementation plans and have already been vetted by NSF. These projects are seen as being central to the integrated science program outlined in this report and as highly synergistic with the ATST as well as NASA flight programs.
The Frequency-Agile Solar Radiotelescope (FASR)
Designed specifically for observing the Sun, FASR will produce high-quality images of radio emissions in the 50-MHz to 21-GHz band with fine spatial, spectral, and time resolution. The radio emissions of interest convey unique, otherwise inaccessible information about the solar atmosphere and the acceleration of energetic particles. Discoveries in the areas of quiet sun physics, the evolution of coronal magnetic fields, solar flares, and space weather drivers are anticipated with the undertaking of this project. FASR was ranked highly by both the 2003 solar and space physics decadal survey3 and by the 2010 astronomy and astrophysics decadal survey.4
The Coronal Solar Magnetism Observatory (COSMO)
COSMO will make continuous synoptic measurements of the corona and chromosphere, investigating solar eruptive events that are central to space weather and other solar-cycle-timescale and long-term coronal phenomena. Observations will show how the coronal magnetic field behaves across the sunspot cycle and how the polarity reversal of the global field affects the heliosphere. COSMO data will provide information about interactions between magnetically closed and open regions that determine the changing structure of the heliospheric magnetic field. The large field of view and continuous observations of COSMO will complement high-resolution, but small field-of-view, coronal magnetic field observations that may be made by the ATST.
In addition, the committee identified four other projects that would be suitable for the midscale line. These projects are not yet well developed but represent the kind of creative approaches that will be necessary for filling the gaps in observational capabilities and for moving the survey’s integrated science plan forward. They are the following.
for the committee’s ranking of the Mid-Scale Innovations Program is the many highly promising projects for achieving diverse and timely science.
See National Research Council, New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics, 2010, p. 23.
3 National Research Council, The Sun to the Earth—and Beyond: A Decadal Research Strategy in Solar and Space Physics, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2003; and National Research Council, The Sun to the Earth—and Beyond: Panel Reports, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2003.
4 National Research Council, New Worlds, New Horizons, 2010.