The section of the report that provides recommendations to NASA will reflect NASA’s responsibility for flight mission investigations. (However, the survey will consider the space-based activities and programs of other agencies; e.g., NSF’s CubeSat program.)
Recommendations related to ground-based implementations (e.g., ground-based solar observatories) will be directed to the NSF. As noted above, the survey committee is charged with establishing science targets and then matching these targets to notional mission designs. In a change from the previous survey, we will employ an independent contractor to assist in the cost estimation and technical analysis of the notional missions.
We anticipate that the survey committee will recommend a mix of small ($250-$500 million), medium ($500-$750 million), and large ($750-$1000 million) strategic flight investigations appropriate to goals of the Solar-Terrestrial Probes program and the Living With a Star program. Flagship (> $1 billion) flight investigations will be considered if permitted by the budget guidelines provided to the survey committee by NASA. Candidates for individual Explorer and lower-cost flight projects, including sub-orbital programs, will not be prioritized; they will be solicited and selected as PI-led missions on the basis of science merit via NASA’s standard AO processes. However, the strategic value of these smaller mission programs to the overall science agenda will be appraised and described in the report from the study.
Request to the Community: We invite you to write a concept paper (e.g., about a mission or extended mission, observation, theory, or modeling activity) that promises to advance an existing or new scientific objective, contribute to fundamental understanding of the Sun-Earth system, and/or facilitate the connection between science and societal needs (e.g., improvements in space weather prediction).
Note that missions that had been prescribed in the 2003 survey (The Sun to the Earth—and Beyond) or other recent NRC reports but have not yet been formally confirmed for implementation will need to be reprioritized for inclusion in the present survey (with the exception, per NASA, of Solar Orbiter and Solar Probe Plus).
The ideas and concepts received will be reviewed by one or more of the survey’s study panels, which are organized to address the following themes:
• Atmosphere-Ionosphere-Magnetosphere Interactions
• Solar Wind-Magnetosphere Interactions
• Solar and Heliospheric Physics
Concept papers can range from a specific instrument or mission proposal to a white paper that examines an issue of broad concern to the community. They may be directed for action by NASA or the NSF; indeed, our audience includes all federal agencies responsible for the conduct of solar and space physics research and operations. We encourage concept papers that, for example, examine the potential of novel instruments or measurement techniques, including the use of orbital or suborbital vehicles of various sizes. In addition, we welcome concept papers on the use of existing or new ground-based facilities, as well as the potential of laboratory experiments. In all cases, concept papers should include the identification of a science and/or societal objective and motivate the importance of achieving this objective in the context of the state of the field.
Initiatives and concepts that are cross-cutting among these themes are particularly encouraged. We anticipate that one or more of the concepts will be selected by each panel for a detailed technical and cost assessment. Panel recommendations and the technical and cost assessments will be provided to the decadal survey steering committee, which is charged with writing a final report that includes targeted recommendations for the agencies. All responses will be considered non-proprietary public information for distribution with attribution. The concept papers should be no longer than seven single-spaced pages in length including figures and tables (but not including footnotes), and should provide the following information, if possible (see next page for more formatting requirements):
1. For proposed observations, technology innovations, or missions, a summary of the science concept, including the observational variable(s) to be measured, the characteristics of the measurement if known (accuracy, spatial and temporal resolution), and domain of the observation. For proposed theory, modeling, or cross-cutting science themes, a summary of the science concept, key opportunities to be addressed, and approach used.
2. A description of how the proposed science concept will help advance solar and space physics science or provide a needed operational capability for the next decade and beyond.