The following HTML text is provided to enhance online
readability. Many aspects of typography translate only awkwardly to HTML.
Please use the page image
as the authoritative form to ensure accuracy.
Working Papers: Astronomy and Astrophysics Panel Reports
Solar Watch: a network of deep-space solar observing nodes in deep space can provide unique views of the Sun from different perspectives. Such stereoscopic viewing is essential scientifically, because of the globally variable structure that solar activity presents to us and because of its inherently three-dimensional structure. A global view is also essential for characterization of solar activity - on relevant time scales -at a level capable of supporting accurate predictions. This prediction capability is a prerequisite for human space travel in the future, for example to the Moon or to Mars, because of the threat posed by high-energy radiations. We envision a ''Solar Watch" program beginning with fairly simple operational measurements, and building up to sophisticated research-class instrumentation in the future.
Solar Synoptic Observatory: a permanent space facility for basic solar observations ranging from total irradiance to H-alpha flare patrol. This type of work is currently done from the ground using antiquated technology, as a service function for various commercial and government users (e.g., power distribution networks interested in service disruptions due to magnetic storms). Such data are often used for scientific purposes, because they uniquely cover the longer time scales. Both functions would improve dramatically - much improvement in precision would be possible, for example in sunspot records - if a permanent facility could be established, perhaps at geosynchronous orbit as a part of the NOAA meteorological satellite system.
Janus: a mission to characterize both the origins and the results of the Sun-Earth interactions, largely by simultaneous remote sensing. The name Janus comes from the Roman god of doorways, represented with two faces for bidirectional viewing. The Janus mission would require observation both from deep space (e.g., the L1 point) and from a polar 24-hour platform. Janus would simultaneously tackle (a) the precise characterization of Sun-Earth relationships of all kinds, essential for the understanding of anthropogenic changes in the environment; and (b) the accumulation of solar data essential for prediction of solar and heliospheric activity - the "solar weather."
3.4 The Space Exploration Initiative
A Presidential initiative is now under consideration to return human beings to the Moon and eventually to send them to Mars as well. While the ultimate objectives of this endeavor are not primarily scientific, this enterprise will inevitably affect solar research in strong ways: "applied solar research" insofar as solar high-energy radiations pose a danger to astronauts' health; and "pure solar research" that can take advantage of uniquely valuable research platforms enabled by the initiative. We discuss these briefly here.
The Initiative presents both challenges and opportunities to solar physics. The challenges relate to the prediction of solar activity, a practical subject whose success is closely linked to our theoretical understanding of the underlying physics. We have addressed this prerequisite with the "Solar Watch" program described above, which will provide qualitative and quantitative improvements in the data base for solar activity forecasting. Deep-space observations of the invisible hemisphere of the Sun alone will appreciably improve activity forecasting via the early warning capability of active-region growth. It should be noted that the present solar maximum is (at least) one of the two largest on record, and that the "millennium maximum" will also produce large particle fluences.
Forecasts of space environment conditions will be more important than ever before when man returns to the Moon and starts for Mars. NASA made a huge effort during the Apollo program to keep aware of and avoid potential dangers from space disturbances. The Space Exploration Initiative will call for an even better effort because of the longer periods of astronaut exposure involved. The needs of society and those of solar physics coincide in research that will lead to a deep enough physical understanding of the Sun to permit accurate predictions of its magnetic activity, or to at least specify the limits of its predictability.
Opportunities for solar research are provided by the unique platforms made available under the Initiative.
The surface of the Moon has some explicit advantages for solar observations. It can provide a stable platform for extremely long focal-length instruments or interferometers, for example. A future Lunar Solar Observatory could therefore give us extraordinary capabilities, perhaps beyond those conceivable in free space. A particularly attractive idea is to build (on the far side of the Moon) a low-frequency radio interferometer. Such an instrument - in a crater far drier than Clark Lake or the Plains of Saint Augustine - would be in an ideal site because of the suppression of terrestrial radiation by the body of the Moon. The instrument would be capable of non-solar observations during its local nighttime.
The deep-space explorations will give us platforms for stereoscopic solar observations. Such observations (of the photosphere, chromosphere, and corona) will allow us to make true three-dimensional images of solar phenomena, probably a key qualitative improvement in many areas of solar physics. Also, the hidden