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Plasma Science: From Fundamental Research to Technological Applications
ronment requires a coordinated and balanced approach utilizing in situ observations, active experimentation, theoretical modeling, ground observations, and laboratory simulations. The requirement for a high degree of synergism is an inescapable conclusion.
The cornerstones of space plasma physics are observations carried out, analyzed, and interpreted in conjunction with complementary theory and modeling. Space plasma physics has historically developed in this mode. With the advent of new technologies, opportunities for further scientific understandings are nearly limitless. In studies similar to this one, the space community is currently examining future directions and independently identifying possibilities. The panel supports such efforts.
The use of space as a medium for active experimentation has declined to the point of near extinction. This is unfortunate, since active experiments may elucidate natural processes and expand in a unique way our basic understanding of the plasma state. The panel recommends a reinvigoration of the active experimentation area.
Meaningful laboratory experiments simulating space phenomena can now be performed in a number of different problem areas. Such experiments provide the opportunity to examine the relevant science in a controllable and reproducible manner; they are thus an important adjunct to highly transitory space observations and can hence serve as a vehicle for interpreting, substantiating, and/or planning the latter. Such laboratory experiments have been largely discredited in the past because they did not scale properly to space conditions, but that shortcoming has been circumvented by developments in technology. The panel recommends an initiative in laboratory experiments of sufficient magnitude to establish a small interactive community.