•   Solar Orbiter (a European Space Agency-NASA partnership, 2017 launch). Solar Orbiter will investigate links between the solar surface, corona, and inner heliosphere from as close as 62 solar radii (i.e., closer to the Sun than Mercury’s nearest approach).

•   Solar Probe Plus (SPP; LWS program; 2018 launch). Solar Probe Plus will make mankind’s first visit to the solar corona to discover how the corona is heated, how the solar wind is accelerated, and how the Sun accelerates particles to high energy.

The powerful fleet of space missions that explore our local cosmos will be significantly strengthened with the addition of these missions. However, their implementation as well as the rest of the baseline program will consume nearly all of the resources anticipated to be available for new starts within NASA’s Heliophysics Division through the midpoint of the overall survey period, 2013-2022.

For NSF, the previous decade has seen the initial deployment of the Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar (AMISR) in Alaska, a modular, mobile radar facility that is being used for studies of the upper atmosphere and space weather events, and the initial development of the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST), a 4-meter-aperture optical solar telescope—by far the largest in the world—that will provide the most highly resolved measurements ever obtained of the Sun’s plasma and magnetic field. These new NSF facilities join a broad range of existing ground-based assets (see Figure 1.2) that provide an essential global synoptic perspective and complement space-based measurements of the solar and space physics system. With adequate science and operations support, they will enable frontier research, even as they add to the long-term record necessary for analyzing space climate over solar cycles.

The success of these activities at NASA and NSF is fundamentally important to long-term scientific progress in solar and space physics. The survey committee concluded that, with prudent management and careful cost-containment, support for and completion of the ongoing program constitute precisely the right first step for the next decadal interval and as such represent the baseline priority.

First Research Recommendation [R1.0], for NASA, NSF, and Other Agencies—Implement the DRIVE Initiative

The survey committee recommends implementation of a new, integrated, multiagency initiative (DRIVE— Diversify, Realize, Integrate, Venture, Educate) that will develop more fully and employ more effectively the many experimental and theoretical assets at NASA, NSF, and other agencies.

Relatively low-cost activities that maximize the science return of ongoing projects and enable new ones are both essential and cost-effective. However, too often recommendations regarding such activities are relegated to background status or referred to in general terms that are difficult to implement. With this in mind, the survey committee raises as its highest new priority for both NASA and NSF the implementation of an integrated, multiagency initiative (DRIVE; see Figure 4.1) that strengthens existing programs and develops critical new capabilities to address the complex science issues that confront the field. DRIVE is an initiative unified not by a central management structure, but rather through a comprehensive set of multiagency recommendations that will facilitate scientific discovery.

This integrative approach is motivated by a sea-change in the way breakthrough science is done. Innovative science is often about breaking down disciplinary boundaries, and nowhere is this more evident than in solar and space physics where, increasingly, a deep understanding of multiply connected physical systems is required to make significant progress. Such system science requires new types and configurations of observations, as well as a new cadre of researchers who can cross disciplinary boundaries seamlessly

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement