2.4 Conclusions and Summary

During the next decade, ground-based solar physics will enter a new observational frontier enabled by advances in adaptive optics, high precision polarimetry, and infrared imaging: direct observations of interactions between solar surface motions and solar magnetic fields on the sub-arcsecond spatial scales which theory predicts are relevant to the evolution of solar surface magnetic fields and energy input into the solar outer atmosphere. These new capabilities complement the new view of the solar interior which helioseismology has revealed over the past decade. As a starting point, we therefore strongly encourage the continued vigorous support of the GONG project (which will push the frontiers of exploring the solar interior from the ground); and we strongly recommend, first, the immediate development of adaptive optics necessary for high and uniform angular resolution optical observations, with the specific aim of building, together with international partners, the LEST facility to attack the frontier of high angular resolution solar surface observations; second, the vigorous development of infrared imaging and spectroscopy instrumentation, together with development of a detailed plan for a large-aperture infrared facility; third, a concerted effort to implement the moderate-scale initiatives listed in Section 2.3.4, and fourth, support for the interdisciplinary initiative listed in Section 2.3.5.


3.1 Introduction and Summary

Beginning with the early V-2 rocket flights, the observing capabilities opened up by access to space have led to a continual flow of discovery and understanding in many branches of solar physics. The new techniques made possible by space -- new wavelengths, unparalleled "seeing", and photometric stability -- have formed a large part of the modern renaissance of solar physics. The solar observational domain has at the same time broadened tremendously, now ranging from neutrinos from the solar core to resonance-scattered interstellar gas at the heliopause.

Much interest in solar physics is associated with magnetic activity: the dynamo, the surface magnetism in sunspots and faculae, solar flares and coronal mass ejections, and the solar wind itself. Observations during the last decade, with the Solar Maximum Mission (SMM) and other instruments, have provided new insights into the problems of explosive energy release and particle acceleration associated with solar activity. But in addition, surprisingly, the deep solar interior has stimulated flourishing new fields of investigation --led by the neutrino puzzle and the remarkable exploits of helioseismology. These new discoveries are just beginning to be reflected in the content of the U.S. space program in solar physics.

To meet the challenge of these new discoveries, we recommend the immediate development of approved missions such as the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SoHO) and the Orbiting Solar Laboratory (OSL), together with the support and encouragement of small observational programs (sub-orbital, international missions, small Explorers, and individual experiments on various spacecraft). Among the proposed new missions beyond OSL, the solar community strongly endorses the High Energy Solar Physics (HESP) mission, a small-to-moderate mission capable of studying magnetic active regions and flares by emphasizing hard X-ray, gamma-ray, and neutron observations, through the maximum of the forthcoming solar cycle (ca. 2000 A.D.).

3.2 Ongoing Programs

3.2.1 U.S. Programs

There are no currently approved U.S. spacecraft dedicated to solar physics. The only NASA programs in observational solar physics approved at present consist of one instrument on the Japanese (ISAS) Solar-A (1991 launch), instrumentation on board the European (ESA) Solar Heliospheric Observatory (1995 launch), and the remainder of the small suborbital program (including two Max 91 balloon payloads, some other rockets, balloons, and one Spartan mission). In addition there are important interdisciplinary instruments with potential solar applications, e.g. the planned launches of the Gamma-Ray Observatory, Ulysses, and WIND in the early 90's.

One flight instrument (the Ultra High Resolution XUV Spectroheliograph ) and one concept study for a major mission (the Pinhole/Occulter Facility) have been approved for Space Station Freedom. Depending upon the rapidity of deployment of the Space Station, and of its utility for attached payloads, it may become

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