Education and Workforce

At the most basic level, the field of solar and space physics needs a robust, well-trained, and talented workforce to accomplish its science goals, as well as an educated populace that recognizes the value of addressing these exciting scientific challenges. The SWMI panel therefore endorses curriculum development efforts across all academic levels, as well as faculty development programs. The panel notes in particular the success of the NSF Faculty Development in Space Science program and strongly supports its continuation and enhancement throughout the coming decade. The panel further endorses funded training opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students, especially for participation in the development of flight hardware. Such opportunities could be provided by science grant augmentations, stand-alone education and public outreach grants, and mission-related funding.

SWMI Imperative: Strengthen workforce, education, and public outreach activities.

9.5.4 Space Weather

As suggested by its title, the long-term goal of this decadal survey is to have the knowledge to ensure the well-being of a society dependent on space. Actionable knowledge of space environment effects involves the ability to characterize conditions anywhere in the system at any time in the past, as well as to predict future conditions with good fidelity. This capability requires an understanding of the full, coupled solar-terrestrial system that encompasses all the regions, processes, and coupling described above, across spatial scales from meters to hundreds of Earth radii. It includes understanding the fundamental microscopic physics as well as the global system behavior in response to variable driving. The ultimate objective in the study of solar wind-magnetosphere interactions is to know how solar and solar-wind input at various spatial and temporal scales determines the nature and behavior of magnetospheric populations, structures, and processes and to be able to predict those that have significant space weather impacts.

There are three aspects of accomplishing this long-term goal:

  1. Establishment of the foundation of comprehensive scientific understanding;
  2. Development of sound, validated space environment models; and
  3. Fielding of the optimum operational assets to drive those models.

The scientific program presented above will put in place some of the tools essential to achieving this vision, particularly by defining outstanding questions that still inhibit a comprehensive scientific understanding.

The development of sound, validated space environment models requires a healthy research-to-operations/operations-to-research program. This in turn clearly necessitates communication and coordination between research-oriented agencies and operational agencies with end-use requirements so that a robust and adequately funded process exists for transitioning scientifically sound and operationally useful models between the two emphases.

Observations are critical for an effective space weather program because they support research and development of models and they drive models in their operational phase. Space weather observations are available from government research and some operational programs as well as from the commercial sector. Currently, each group in isolation develops observational requirements and observing systems to fulfill those requirements. To make more effective use of limited resources, these observations should be nationally coordinated, allowing research groups to provide input and possibly additional payloads to operational or commercial endeavors. Similarly, coordination would allow operational and commercial

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