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Space Weather Space Weather A Research Perspective Committee on Solar and Space Physics Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Research Copyright Â© 1997 by the National Academy of Sciences; all rights reserved. Space Studies Board Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources PREFACE WHAT IS SPACE WEATHER? THE ELEMENTS OF NEAR-EARTH SPACE SOLAR ORIGINS OF SPACE WEATHER EARTH-SPACE METEOROLOGY PRACTICAL CONSEQUENCES OF SPACE WEATHER WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS A SPACE WEATHER PLAN FOR THE NATION GLOSSARY NOTICE MEMBERSHIP file:///S|/SSB/1swIndex.htm [6/25/2003 4:35:03 PM]
Space Weather: A Research Perspective Space Weather: A Research Perspective Preface For decades, it has been known that solar-induced changes in the space environment can affect the performance and reliability of space-based and ground-based technological systems. However, "space weather" reports have not been widely disseminated in the past in part because of their potential military strategic applications and in part because society at large has only recently incorporated space technology into everyday living. The idea of a broadly based National Space Weather Service was conceived by a group representing the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Defense (DOD), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Department of the Interior, Department of Energy (DOE), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in early 1994. In part, this was a response to the current climate in the nation, where substantive, broad, and demonstrated relevance to economic and social causes has become a key goal of post-Cold War scientific research. Prior to this era, space environment-related research and applications activities were sponsored to varying degrees by essentially all of the above agencies, with the NOAA Space Environment Center and the Air Force Forecast Center (55th Space Weather Squadron) providing most services to consumers of space weather information. However, the fruits of the diverse agency-supported efforts were never organized into a coherent program or product (although coordination occurred through the office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Services). In particular, the efficient incorporation of new knowledge and observations into applications tools using the new information technologies did not always occur, and the testing of science-based models by their degree of success in "real-world" applications was not widely exploited. The first opportunities for research support dedicated to space weather under the National Space Weather Program appeared in 1996. At the same time, scientists embarked on a period of unprecedented understanding of the Sun-Earth connections with the realization of the International Solar-Terrestrial Physics (ISTP) program. The ISTP combines a multinational network of Earth-orbiting spacecraft, including two file:///S|/SSB/1swPreface.htm (1 of 2) [6/25/2003 4:35:08 PM]
Space Weather: A Research Perspective implemented by NASA as principal, with supporting ground-based investigations and theoretical modeling. The ISTP has been anticipated since the 1980s, when the goal of understanding the coupled solar-terrestrial system was envisioned as achievable with current knowledge, instrumentation, and computational capabilities. In response to this confluence of events, the jointly operating Committee on Solar and Space Physics (CSSP) and Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Research (CSTR) of the National Research Council have produced this brief perspective on the scientific roots of space weather. Many of the ongoing and planned experimental and theoretical modeling investigations in solar and space physics are in some way connected with the space weather issue. In particular, both the "solar connections" enterprise within NASA's Office of Space Science and NSF's Atmospheric Sciences and Astronomy divisions support investigations related to the nature of solar activity and its effects on the Earth. Space weather applications may require some "repackaging" of products based upon these studies to make them operational, for example, by using "real-time" measurements in space. Nonetheless, they should derive great benefit from exploitation of the research activities documented in individual agency reports and in the recently completed report A Science Strategy for Space Physics by CSSP and CSTR. The presentation is by no means comprehensive, but presents the subject a step removed from the applications emphasis. Its content is intended to illustrate the scientific directions and opportunities associated with the space weather enterprise. file:///S|/SSB/1swPreface.htm (2 of 2) [6/25/2003 4:35:08 PM]