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Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review (2017)

Chapter: 5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS

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Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
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5

The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS

The GS scientific program addresses the ambitious and exciting endeavor of advancing the frontiers of understanding of the solar-terrestrial environment. The program is an essential component of the federal support to the upper atmosphere and space physics community, consisting of both curiosity-driven and targeted research. The 2013 solar and space physics decadal survey1 makes a variety of recommendations to accomplish the program, recommendations, and priorities with which the ICCGS report2 is well aligned, with some exceptions. For the purposes of this chapter, the recommended program is grouped into five major sections: actions for current GS facilities; the evolution of facilities programs; competed grants—including core, targeted, and strategic programs; workforce development and diversity; and partnerships and opportunities.

5.1 NSF GEOSPACE SECTION FACILITIES: RECOMMENDED ACTIONS

A funding trend identified by the ICCGS is that for at least a decade “GS has added new programs and facilities . . . without terminating existing programs.”3 These relatively new programs include PFISR and RISR-N, CCMC, SuperMAG, SuperDARN, AMPERE, and the CRRL. These additions have caused significant pressure on the GS program and were one of the motivators for the GS portfolio review.

One of the main tasks of the ICCGS was to prioritize facilities and programs in order to free up funds to address decadal survey priorities. The ICCGS therefore formulated a set of recommendations on how to reallocate funding for new programs and initiatives. With the implementation of these recommendations, more than $7 million will be potentially available from the facilities budget to support the development of new instruments, facilities, partnerships, and programs. Both the ICCGS and the assessment committee recognize that these are significant cuts that deeply affect portions of the geospace community. The ICCGS recommendations are summarized in Table 9.1 of the ICCGS report, provided in Figure 5.1. The ICCGS recommendations for GS facilities are summarized and discussed below.

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1 National Research Council (NRC), 2013, Solar and Space Physics: A Science for a Technological Society, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.

2 National Science Foundation (NSF), 2016, Investments in Critical Capabilities for Geospace Science 2016 to 2025, Geospace Section of the Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Science, February 5, https://www.nsf.gov/geo/adgeo/geospace-review/geospace-portfolio-reviewfinal-rpt-2016.pdf.

3 Ibid., p. 16.

Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
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FIGURE 5.1 Summary table of the GS portfolio recommended by the ICCGS. NOTE: Acronyms are defined in Appendix E. SOURCE: National Science Foundation, 2016, Investments in Critical Capabilities for Geospace Science 2016 to 2025, Geospace Section of the Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Science, February 5, https://www.nsf.gov/geo/adgeo/geospace-review/geospace-portfolio-review-final-rpt-2016.pdf, Table 9.1, p. 105.

Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×

5.1.1 Class 1 Facilities

The ICCGS establishes a definition for a “community facility” and considers facilities to be of two types: Class 1 and Class 2. A Class 1 facility is defined as “a major, complex facility at a single site. Its investment over time typically reaches many [tens of millions of dollars], requires significant M&O [management and operations] funds and accommodates a variety of complementary instruments at or very near the site. Class 1 facilities might be expected to have a lifetime of 20+ years from first deployment. In the current portfolio, all the ISRs are considered to be Class 1,”4 and the only Class 1 facilities at present are ISRs. They are as follows: Arecibo Observatory, PFISR, RISR-N, Sondrestrom, Millstone Hill, and Jicamarca. Together, the Class 1 facilities are supported by NSF GS at a level of $13.05 million (FY2015). The ICCGS identifies Class 1 facilities for the largest budget cuts as follows:

  • ICCGS Recommendations 7.6, 7.7, and 9.11 summarized: Reduce annual funding to Arecibo Observatory from $4.1 million to $1.1 million annually. Funding of ancillary instruments for geospace studies should be budgeted and decided in the peer-review process. The costs of running the heating facility at Arecibo should be budgeted as a pay-as-you-go system and decided in a peer-review process.
  • ICCGS Recommendations 7.2, 7.3, and 9.9 summarized: Terminate funding for the Sondrestrom ISR ($2.5 million annually) when the current continuing contract for its management and operation ends in December 2017, or via ramping down of funds, and allow ancillary instruments to compete for funds through a peer-review process from the core and targeted GS grants programs.

The remaining recommendations concerning Class 1 facilities in ICCGS Section 7 do not involve further significant reductions in funding. These ICCGS recommendations are summarized as follows: funding for RISR-N should be decoupled from funding for any other facility to enhance greater transparency into its costs (ICCGS Rec. 7.8); the optimum location of PFISR for frontier research should be determined through peer review (ICCGS Rec. 7.9); investment in Millstone Hill is required until it can be replaced by a lower cost option, possibly at another location (ICCGS Rec. 7.10), although the assessment committee notes that ICCGS Rec. 9.13 recommends a cut of $0.15 million to Millstone Hill, to be redirected to a Data Systems Program (see Section 5.2.5 below); and the Jicamarca principal investigator should apply to the recommended Facilities I&V funding line (see Section 5.2.3 below) for funding to install needed upgrades (ICCGS Rec. 7.11). Lastly, the ICCGS recommends that “NSF should develop a consistent policy and procedure for supporting the M&O of the ancillary experiments at ISR facility sites” (ICCGS Rec. 7.12).

The assessment committee acknowledges that to address decadal survey priorities under a flat-budget scenario, GS funding of facilities or activities must be reduced, or in some cases, eliminated. However, the committee has two broad concerns regarding the recommended cuts to Class 1 facilities. First, the actual costs of supporting geospace science at Arecibo and Sondrestrom, including both the ISRs and ancillary instrumentation, are not detailed by the ICCGS. It is difficult to understand the nature and extent of capabilities that would remain at the Arecibo and Sondrestrom sites and to evaluate the degree to which the capabilities align with current community science needs. Second, the management and funding arrangements for Arecibo are complex, involving NSF AGS, NSF AST, and NASA funding; whereas Sondrestrom is an NSF-funded facility on foreign soil. Recognizing that a degree of uncertainty is inherent to the time scale on which NSF can implement the ICCGS recommendations for Arecibo and Sondrestrom, the assessment committee is concerned that NSF will not be able to meet the schedule assumed in the ICCGS, a prerequisite for the availability of funds for new programs.

GS’s ability to reduce its support to Arecibo is complicated by Arecibo’s management and funding structure. Arecibo is owned by NSF and operated via a cooperative agreement by SRI International with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) and the Universidad Metropolitana. Funding is from GS and NSF AST, with additional funding provided by NASA to USRA for solar system radar studies. Previous reductions in support by AST to Arecibo (from $10.6 million annually in 2006, reducing over time to $4.1 million in 2016) have prompted

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4 Ibid., pp. 74-75.

Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×

NSF to consider alternative management arrangements and to conduct an environmental impact review.5,6 The cooperative agreement for operating Arecibo, slated to expire at the end of FY2016, has been extended to March 31, 2018, and a solicitation for future continued operations of Arecibo is planned.7 NSF’s ongoing considerations for the future of Arecibo may delay the availability of funds for ICCGS’s recommended new programs.

The ICCGS recommends terminating funding for the Sondrestrom ISR when its current agreements with NSF expire in December 2017 or via a progressive ramp-down toward 2020, and the costs for performing science with ancillary instruments and their operational costs should be competed through a peer-reviewed process from the core and targeted grants programs (ICCGS Recs. 7.2, 7.3, and 9.9). The ICCGS recommends that GS should develop a consistent policy and procedure for supporting the management and operations (M&O) costs of ancillary experiments at ISR sites and that they should normally be the responsibility of the relevant PI. Implicit in the ICCGS recommendation is the assumption that continuing support of ancillary geospace instrumentation will remain feasible at both Arecibo and Sondrestrom.

The total budget for Sondrestrom is $2.5 million per year. It is unclear how much savings will be gained by termination of only the ISR without additional consideration of the M&O costs of a varying number of ancillary instruments (such as housing of personnel and site maintenance independent of the ISR). The assessment committee notes that continued operation of the Sondrestrom site in general may not be feasible if not enough support is obtained via the grants programs. Moving ancillary instruments to another site would be an additional cost. Similarly, the feasibility of continued operations of ancillary instrumentation at Arecibo is currently unknown.

The combination of unknown factors regarding the futures of Arecibo and Sondrestrom led the assessment committee to draw two conclusions.

Conclusion: Details concerning the actual costs of supporting geospace sciences at Arecibo Observatory and Sondrestrom, including the ISRs and ancillary instrumentation, are not provided in the ICCGS. It is therefore difficult for the assessment committee to understand the nature and extent of capabilities that would remain at the Arecibo and Sondrestrom sites and to evaluate the degree to which the capabilities align with current community science needs.

Conclusion: The two most significant sources of funds for new facilities and programs within GS result from reducing funding to Arecibo Observatory from $4.1 million to $1.1 million and terminating funding for the Sondrestrom ISR. The ICCGS recommends that these funding changes be complete by 2020. However, management and operations at both sites are inherently complex, introducing a degree of uncertainty regarding the full extent of savings realized by the recommended cuts and of the time required before these funds are available for reallocation.

5.1.2 Class 2 Facilities

The ICCGS defines Class 2 facilities as “more modest and diverse investments. They include distributed networks of instruments that are simpler to operate than ISRs . . . , facilities producing value added products from data from other sources . . . , model support for the community . . . , and data management (Madrigal Database, currently funded through the Millstone Hill ISR contract).”8 The ICCGS includes SuperDARN, AMPERE, SuperMAG, and CCMC as Class 2 facilities. The CRRL is currently funded as a facility, but ICCGS recommends a change in status, as discussed below.

ICCGS recommendations regarding Class 2 facilities are summarized as follows: to continue funding of

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5 NSF, 2016, “Environmental Impact Statement for the Arecibo Observatory, Arecibo, Puerto Rico, Draft,” October 18, https://www.nsf.gov/mps/ast/env_impact_reviews/arecibo/eis/DEIS.pdf.

6 The Arecibo environmental impact review examines all options from no action (continued investment at current levels), to various modes of collaboration, to complete deconstruction and site restoration. NSF has not yet made a decision regarding these options.

7 NSF, 2016, “Dear Colleague Letter: Intent to Release a Solicitation Regarding Future Continued Operations of the Arecibo Observatory,” NSF 16-144, September 30, 2016.

8 NSF, 2016, Investments in Critical Capabilities for Geospace Science 2016 to 2025, p. 75.

Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×

AMPERE I/II at current levels (ICCGS Rec. 7.13); to continue NSF investment in CCMC at the current level, with a focus on providing scientific expertise and model capabilities that are not supported by NASA (ICCGS Rec. 7.14); to continue funding SuperMAG at the current level (ICCGS Rec. 7.15); to assess whether scientific synergies could be realized “if all GS-sponsored magnetometers were managed as a single array” with the possibility that “such an array could evolve into a Class 2 facility” (ICCGS Rec. 7.16). Regarding SuperDARN, the ICCGS recommends that the U.S. SuperDARN groups determine an optimum balance between local research and community service, as well as optimize the efficiency of M&O (ICCGS Rec. 7.17). These recommendations do not have a significant budgetary impact.

The CRRL, comprised of a network of four LIDARs distributed around the world and a technology center, is currently supported by the GS Upper Atmospheric Facilities program. During their review, “the PRC reached the opinion that CRRL as currently organized and directed is not a community facility as defined in [ICCGS Section 7.2]. Its scientific objectives and its decisions on how different technological capabilities and scientific priorities are pursued are consistent with research activities funded by the GS Core and Targeted Grants Programs rather than the GS Facilities Program.”9 Consequently, ICCGS does not recognize the CRRL as a community facility, and recommends that the “participating members of the CRRL group should seek peer-reviewed funding individually or collectively from the Core or Targeted GS Programs”(ICCGS Rec. 7.18). The associated CRRL technology center “should apply for separate funding from the proposed Innovation and Vitality Program” if it aspires to develop a new GS facility (ICCGS Rec. 7.19).

In contrast to the CRRL, in considering the Low-latitude Ionosphere Sensor Network (LISN), the ICCGS finds that the network has many characteristics of a Class 2 facility and recommends (ICCGS Rec. 7.20) that its M&O and science resources should be funded out of the newly recommended peer-reviewed DASI fund (described in Section 5.2.4 below). The ICCGS does not fully explain why the CRRL is not a community facility while the LISN may be. The CRRL is also characterized as a “DASI-type” network and may therefore be eligible for the DASI Facilities Program according to ICCGS Section 7.4.3.10 Evaluation criteria for DASI-type instruments or networks have not yet been well defined.

The funding currently used to support the CRRL from the GS facilities program ($1.2 million) would be redirected to “strategic grants programs to address DRIVE initiatives recommended by the Decadal Survey.”11 According to Figure 5.1 (ICCGS Table 9.1), the strategic grants to address DRIVE initiatives appear to be the IGS program that includes Space Weather Modeling and Grand Challenges Projects. This is not the same as the core and targeted grants program to which CRRL investigators are recommended to send their proposals; therefore, pressure on the core and targeted grants programs will increase. An alternative possibility is, like LISN, for the CRRL to apply for support through the DASI Facilities Program, when funding becomes available in 2020, in order to transition to a Class 2 facility, as defined by ICCGS.

Conclusion: The ICCGS recommendation concerning the CRRL, while freeing up resources for the Integrative Geospace Science grant program, may increase the proposal burden on other core and targeted grants programs. Once evaluation criteria have been defined for DASI-type sensors or networks, programs such as the CRRL and LISN could transition to a Class 2 facility by seeking support from the DASI Facilities Program.

5.2 EVOLUTION OF NSF GEOSPACE SECTION FACILITIES

Using resources made available by actions described in Section 5.1, the ICCGS recommends significant new investments in an international partnership (EISCAT) and in two new funding lines relevant to facility renewal, model development/upgrades, and instrument development. These are the Facilities I&V Program, with a stable annual budget of $2.7 million by 2020 (ICCGS Rec. 9.14); and a DASI Facilities Program, with an annual budget of $1.6 million (ICCGS Rec. 9.12). As noted in Section 5.1 above, “DASI” is an acronym for “distributed arrays

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9 Ibid., p. 111.

10 Ibid., pp. 84-85.

11 Ibid., pp. 3 and 104.

Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×

of small instruments”12 that has broadened in meaning to instrument concepts that may span a significant range in size, from Class 2 facilities (as in the ICCGS report) up to midscale projects, or even MREFC projects. A modest investment is also recommended for a Data Systems Program. These recommended investments are discussed below along with brief comments on the support of scientific research within facility awards. A potential Midscale Projects Program is also discussed; however, ICCGS was not able to recommend beginning this program within GS’s current budget.

5.2.1 Midscale Projects Funding

The recent decadal surveys for astronomy and astrophysics13 and for solar and space physics14 both called for an NSF midscale program to support development of ground-based facilities and experiments that are too small for the NSF MREFC account’s recently adjusted lower limit of $70 million,15 but too large for the NSF MRI program’s upper limit of $4 million.16

The solar and space physics survey’s DRIVE initiative emphasized the need for a diverse portfolio of observational platforms, including midscale programs. These address critical gaps in geospace and solar observational capabilities, offer opportunities to integrate new technologies, and offer platforms for innovation in technology, observing techniques, data analysis, and data assimilation. The survey identified several candidate midscale projects—the Frequency Agile Solar Telescope, the Coronal Solar Magnetism Observatory, distributed arrays of ground-based sensors—that cannot be undertaken without a midscale project funding line. Particularly in an era of fixed budgets, such a program is too large for a small section such as GS and would have to be part of a larger division, directorate, or agency initiative.

The ICCGS considers a midscale budget line to address projects in the $4 million to $30 million range,17 pointing out that at least $5 million to $6 million per year would be needed for a viable midscale funding line within GS (ICCGS Section 3.2). In ICCGS Section 7.7, the ICCGS comments that the “PRC agrees with the [survey] that numerous compelling Midscale projects could address gaps in critical capabilities for geospace and solar science.” The ICCGS recommended (ICCGS Recs. 7.33, 7.34, 9.16, 9.17) that if the use of Arecibo Observatory is no longer available to the geospace community due to divestment or insufficient funding for its continued operation, the $1.1 million earmarked by the ICCGS for support of Arecibo Observatory should be redirected to the Facilities I&V Program, some part of which could be used to support a Midscale Projects Program. If future GS budgets exceed the flat budget guidance by more than $1 million, the ICCGS recommends that additional annual funding should be redirected toward the Midscale Projects Program. The assessment committee notes that even if these additional funding sources become available, the total Midscale Projects Program’s budget would only enable projects in the lower end of the gap between the MRI and MREFC programs. Not only are the scenarios largely speculative, but even if they were to be realized, the budget may be insufficient for some of the candidate midscale projects identified by the survey.

Survey recommendations are addressed to solar and space physics at NSF, and their implementation requires actions by two divisions, AST and AGS, under two directorates, Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) and GEO, respectively. Furthermore, as a high-priority recommendation to NSF from two decadal surveys, and as 1 of 10 strategic “big ideas” for NSF,18 the assessment committee believes that the creation of an AGS midscale projects budget line requires the investment of new funds outside of the GS budget in a program to which the geo-

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12 NRC, 2006, Distributed Arrays of Small Instruments for Solar-Terrestrial Research: Report of a Workshop, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.

13 NRC, 2010, New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.

14 NRC, 2013, Solar and Space Physics.

15 NSF, “Important Notice #138: Revision of the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) Eligibility Threshhold,” www.nsf.gov/pubs/2017/in138/in138.jsp.

16New Worlds, New Horizons (NRC, 2010) characterizes the range as greater than the MRI cap of $4 million and less than lower limit of $135 million for the MREFC program. An annual funding line of $40 million was recommended.

17 This is also the budget range for the AST division-wide Midscale Innovations Program.

18 NSF, “10 Big Ideas for Future NSF Investments,” https://www.nsf.gov/about/congress/reports/nsf_big_ideas.pdf, accessed October 20, 2016.

Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×

space sciences community will be eligible to apply. The development and implementation of a Midscale Projects Program will require coordination between the AGS division, the GEO directorate, and NSF.

Conclusion: Funding a program for midscale projects currently lies outside the means and ability of the NSF Geospace Section alone.

Recommendation: The Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences should work with the Directorate for Geosciences and the National Science Foundation to implement the 2013 solar and space physics decadal survey recommendation for a Midscale Projects Program to address midscale priorities.

5.2.2 Investment in EISCAT

To replace, in part, capabilities lost by the recommended termination of support for the Sondrestrom ISR—for example, geomagnetic cusp studies at a similar geomagnetic location—the ICCGS recommends (ICCGS Recs. 7.2, 7.4, 7.23, and 9.10) that GS should investigate joining the EISCAT consortium in order for U.S. investigators to access existing EISCAT facilities and the planned EISCAT-3D facility. ICCGS Rec. 7.23 recommends that GS solicit proposals from the U.S. community to form a U.S. EISCAT consortium, to be funded by a block grant. The consortium would initially join EISCAT as an affiliate in order to gain experience with EISCAT before making a 5-year commitment as an associate. The assessment committee considers the recommendations a sensible approach: leveraging an international partnership to retain certain capabilities and to expand others, consistent with survey guidance regarding international partnerships.19

Conclusion: The ICCGS has identified an evolution of the ISR program that maintains most of the important capabilities of the existing program and frees up resources for the near-term renewal of existing facilities and for innovation and development of new instrumentation and observations in the next decade.

The assessment committee cautions that assuming “NSF investigators could begin using the EISCAT system soon after the current continuing grant for Sondrestrom” expires (ICCGS Section 9.4) may be overoptimistic for the following reasons:

  • The termination of Sondrestrom and investigation into a partnership with EISCAT can proceed in parallel. However, both may take considerable time to accomplish, delaying opportunities enabled by funds that are to be redirected to new programs.
  • EISCAT-3D is not, as yet, fully funded, and its management and operations costs are not fully understood. Current and future EISCAT and EISCAT-3D M&O costs and the potential liability of such costs to GS will be important considerations when entering into the partnership.

Conclusion: The EISCAT and EISCAT-3D represent an attractive investment that would ensure U.S. access to state-of-the-art ISR instrumentation at a lower cost than is currently the case. However, the time it will take to enter the EISCAT partnership may be longer than assumed by the ICCGS. The U.S. contribution to current and future operations and management costs will be an important consideration when entering the partnership.

5.2.3 Facility Innovation and Vitality Program

ICCGS Rec. 9.14 recommends the creation of a new Facilities I&V Program (see also ICCGS Recs. 6.2-6.3, 6.19, 7.10, 7.19, and 7.21-7.22) with a steady-state budget of $2.7 million annually. The ICCGS recommends that, given “the diversity of possible applications [to the I&V program], a panel review is recommended so that the broader requirements of the GS community can be represented” (ICCGS Rec. 7.22). The program would com-

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19 NRC, 2013, Solar and Space Physics, p. 122.

Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×

petitively fund awards through a peer-review proposal process at a cadence of 1 to 3 years. The I&V line would support a number of existing and new activities, including the following:

  • Major repairs and renovation of existing facilities,
  • Hardware or software development that would enhance the performance of existing facilities,
  • Development of new instrumentation to an operational capability,
  • Development of numerical algorithms/methodologies to improve computational models, and
  • Development of real-time capabilities at facilities.

The recommended Facilities I&V Program will be a source of funds for driving innovation across the GS facilities and modeling portfolio, as well as instrument development and technology integration. However, the assessment committee notes that the definition of the program is at present very broad and consideration will need to be given to balancing its constituent parts via activities such as the ICCGS recommended panel review (ICCGS Rec. 7.22). Its relation to the strategic grants programs, especially space weather modeling and Grand Challenges, needs clarification.

Conclusion: The scope of the Facilities I&V Program, the balance of its constituent elements, and its relationship to the strategic grants program require better definition and focus.

5.2.4 DASI Facilities Program

The DASI concept (ICCGS Section 7.4.3) centers on ground-based and in situ measurements of the atmosphere and ionosphere over a range of costs and scopes and a range of spatial and temporal scales that would work together to provide observational constraints to assimilative modeling tools. This basic idea is critical to the system science approach and the need for DASI-like instrumentation has been recognized for at least a decade. Progress in realizing DASI-like instruments has been slow as a result of several factors: lack of funding opportunities, lack of community experience in forming the necessary partnerships, and inadequate experience in developing the necessary capabilities for “unmanned and energy-efficient operation of distributed instruments.”20 Nevertheless, several DASI-like initiatives have emerged, including CRRL, SuperDARN, and LISN.

The ICCGS made a number of specific recommendations that support the development and implementation of DASI-like instrumentation and associated data assimilation challenges. Recommended actions include the following: support IGS science (ICCGS Rec. 6.2), encourage multidisciplinary efforts and target resources toward them (ICCGS Rec. 6.7), encourage MAG/AER DASI collaborations (ICCGS Rec. 6.11), include a Grand Challenge Project within IGS (ICCGS Rec. 6.21), and create a DASI fund for small instrumentation and related M&O (ICCGS Rec. 7.24), and allow those projects to grow into facilities (ICCGS Rec. 7.25). These lead to ICCGS Rec. 9.12, which calls for a DASI Facilities Program funded at a level of $1.6 million annually. The DASI Facilities Program, as currently conceived, is to be used to “develop and implement one or more Class 2 facilities.”

Resources available for DASIs will be limited; therefore, some NSF-led community discussion may be needed to propel the community forward in considering appropriate DASI-type sensors and projects. Community discussion can guide leadership and address DASI planning issues, including the following: defining what needs to be known; determining which sensors can provide that information; deciding which assimilative tools need development; and creating metrics for how well the observations are expected to improve the development of models. These issues as a group collectively form the basis for a traceability matrix for DASI development.

As a new set of DASIs is created, as noted in ICCGS Section 5.1, computational assimilative techniques will need development to make optimal use of the new heterogeneous data sources produced by DASI-like instruments. It is not clear to the assessment committee that the Data Systems Program will be sufficient to address the need for making optimal use of heterogeneous data sources. Other resources that may be helpful toward this development include the Integrative Geospace Science program and targeted grants.

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20 NSF, 2016, Investments in Critical Capabilities for Geospace Science 2016 to 2025, p. 84.

Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×

The ICCGS suggests metrics for selecting proposals for the DASI Facilities Program, addressing, for instance, capabilities enabling survey priorities, quality of new science, size of user community, quality and range of services to be provided, and leverage from international partners. The ICCGS also states that when DASI facilities become operational and the DASI Facilities Program is fully subscribed, and further DASI facilities cannot be implemented without an increase in the GS budget or defunding one or mode DASI facilities, a “rigorous senior review for DASI programs will be required to determine the future of the DASI program, and future new initiatives in the DASI program.”21

Conclusion: The assessment committee endorses the intent of the collective ICCGS recommendations regarding DASIs and DASI-related issues, in moving GS toward a guiding role in scientifically directing community thought and efforts toward system-level studies of the geospace region.

Recommendation: To begin implementation of the Investments in Critical Capabilities for Geospace Science 2016 to 2025 recommendations to create distributed arrays of small instruments (DASIs) with the goal of starting new Class 2 facilities, the National Science Foundation should support community efforts to establish requirements for future DASI-type sensors and projects—by organizing targeted community workshops, for example—within a wider Geospace Section strategic framework.

5.2.5 Data Systems Program

The ICCGS notes that the survey calls for NASA to augment its data systems support for the HSO. The ICCGS also states that GS facilities arguably constitute an “emerging NSF-sponsored Geospace System Observatory (GSO)” (ICCGS Section 9.4) and that NSF should likewise augment its support for GSO data systems. At present the Madrigal system, largely developed by Millstone Hill Observatory, supports the aeronomy community. SuperDARN, SuperMAG, and AMPERE manage their own data; data at other facilities are managed in an ad hoc fashion. The ICCGS concludes that “more effective coordination of these data sets and development of value-added data products would improve their accessibility and utility for geospace science” and recommends (ICCGS Rec. 9.13) that GS fund a Data Systems Program at a level of $0.5 million annually, part of which would come from $150,000 being redirected from the Millstone Hill budget for the Madrigal system. The development and management of the new data system would be awarded through a competitive, peer-reviewed process, and once the system became fully operational, it would transition to a Class 2 facility. However, the assessment committee notes that the scope of the Data Systems Program is not yet defined, and the resources required to implement the program are not well understood. For example, other extant databases might be leveraged to support the initiative in a cost-effective manner. In addition, it is not clear how long-term data records, such as those at Class 1 facilities at Arecibo and Sondrestrom, will be made available through the Data Systems Program.

Finding: The scope of the proposed data system is not well understood at this point, and the resources required are consequently not known.

Conclusion: It is not clear that the proposed budget line is appropriate for the task of supporting a potential Geospace System Observatory.

5.2.6 Evolution of Research Within Facilities

In ICCGS Section 7.5.2, scientific research within facilities awards is discussed. The ICCGS suggests that GS should develop a method for deciding on a case-by-case basis whether to support scientific research at observing facilities and recommends that an upper limit of 10 percent of the facility personnel budget be allocated for scientific research (ICCGS Rec. 7.29).

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21 Ibid., p.110.

Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×

In the view of the assessment committee, a 10 percent limit seems arbitrary and may not be sufficient for some facilities to support adequate science operations. The decadal survey makes no specific quantitative recommendation for direct support of scientific work at facilities; however, the Realize component of the DRIVE initiative emphasizes that strong support for data analysis is required to make effective use of observations. Operation of observing facilities by those with a direct and active scientific interest helps ensure data quality, calibration, and usability. Competitive selection of facility operators and regular “senior reviews” of facilities overall (ICCGS Rec. 7.30) would ensure that research funds are spent on the most productive science.

Finding: Facility scientists that are active scientific researchers are critical to ensuring data acquired by instruments are of high quality for science usage.

Recommendation: Recommendation 7.29 of Investments in Critical Capabilities for Geospace Science 2016 to 2025 states that an upper limit of 10 percent be placed on facility personnel budgets allocated for scientific research. The National Science Foundation’s Geospace Section should evaluate the support for science operations as a factor in judging how well a given facility enables and supports scientific investigations for its users, not fix the fraction of staff time used for science operations a priori.

5.3 GRANTS PROGRAMS

The competed grants program currently includes the following three core grant programs: AER, MAG, and STR. Targeted grants (CEDAR, GEM, and SHINE), SWM, CubeSats, and FDSS are currently grouped under Strategic Grants, as illustrated in Figure 5.1 (ICCGS Table 9.1).

The GS Grants Program addresses a dual mandate. One goal is to enable curiosity-driven, frontier discoveries of fundamental physical processes, including those enabling systems science. The other goal is to advance integrative and cross-disciplinary science, including the development of coupled Sun-Earth models that can address space weather needs. The first of these mandates is being addressed today through the Core Grants Programs, and to some extent through contributions from the Strategic Grants program. The ICCGS-recommended GS Grants Program detailed below addresses the second mandate by proposing specific portfolio adjustments to advance integrative science and predictive science that underlie space weather applications and cross-disciplinary science. The assessment committee notes that the emphasis on predictive science and space weather is also aligned with the increasing national need to protect critical infrastructure from space weather impacts, as documented in the 2015 NSWS22 and the SWAP.23 The action plan identifies NSF, in collaboration with other agencies, as responsible for enhancing the “fundamental understanding of space weather and its drivers to develop and continually improve predictive models.”24

ICCGS Recs. 9.1 and 9.2 (see also ICCGS Recs. 4.10 and 6.1-6.6) state that GS should maintain the existing budget share of core grants in AER, MAG, and STR—at least a third or not less than $14 million to $15 million annually (ICCGS Figure 9.1, provided in Figure 5.2). AER, MAG, and STR each fund fewer than 10 new awards per year. Also recommended is that GS should use proposal pressure—together with consideration of portfolio balance—to determine the distribution of investments. The ICCGS recommends that GS program managers should be given flexibility in determining allocations between the core and targeted programs; that is, separate budget line items for AER/MAG/STR and for CEDAR/GEM/SHINE should be eliminated by 2020.

The evolutionary component lies within the strategic grants. Specifically, a strategic IGS grants program is recommended that includes both a transformed SWM program and new Grand Challenge Projects.

The survey recommends that NASA and NSF collaborate to create Heliophysics Science Centers as “a mechanism for bringing together critically sized teams of observers, theorists, modelers, and computer scientists

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22 National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), 2015, National Space Weather Strategy, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Washington, D.C., October.

23 NSTC, 2015, National Space Weather Action Plan, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Washington, D.C., October.

24 Ibid., Section 5.5.

Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×
Image
FIGURE 5.2 Relative budgets for Geospace Section program elements and Class 1 and Class 2 facilities itemized in Figure 5.1 for fiscal year 2015 and the recommended distributions for 2020 and 2025. SOURCE: National Science Foundation, 2016, Investments in Critical Capabilities for Geospace Science 2016 to 2025, Geospace Section of the Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Science, February 5, https://www.nsf.gov/geo/adgeo/geospace-review/geospace-portfolio-review-final-rpt-2016.pdf, Figure 9.1, p. 106.

to address the most challenging problems in solar and space physics.”25 The survey recommends that NSF and NASA jointly fund centers for terms up to 6 years at a rate of $1 million to $3 million. Instead, the ICCGS recommends initiating Grand Challenge Projects with a budget of $1.5 million per year by 2020, a new strategic grants program that, together with the current SWM program, would reside under Integrative Geospace Science by 2020 (ICCGS Recs. 9.3 and 9.4). Although Grand Challenge Projects would operate differently than Heliophysics

___________________

25 NSF, 2016, Investments in Critical Capabilities for Geospace Science 2016 to 2025, Section 5.6.2.

Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×

Science Centers, the ICCGS also recommends that NASA and NSF “explore best practices for collaboration on Grand Challenge Projects” (ICCGS Rec. 6.22). The ICCGS comments that the Grand Challenge Projects under IGS is “more consistent with community-driven, collaborative research initiatives emerging from GS targeted grants programs than would be a Heliophysics Science Center model” and that it would also “encourage greater cross-disciplinarity and greater emphasis on integrative and systems science than presently occurs.”26 As recommended by the ICCGS, the IGS portfolio would grow from a total of $3 million per year in 2020 to $5 million per year in 2025 in recognition of the expected evolution of integrative science and by “acquiring IGS projects funded by the Targeted Grants Programs” (ICCGS Rec. 9.4) Although there is no explicit ICCGS recommendation, the assessment committee notes that research on the outer heliosphere is included under “recommended investments” in ICCGS Table 5.1, an example of cross-cutting science cited by the survey.

Finding: Evolution of the strategic and targeted grants programs emphasizes the continuing transition of geospace sciences from distinct strategic areas to an integrative approach to address more optimally geospace science as a complex dynamical system.

The share of the overall GS budget remains stable for the core grants program and increases modestly for strategic grants. However, the assessment committee notes that both components of the grants program potentially will be under increased pressure as a result of recommendations made regarding Sondrestrom, Arecibo, and the CRRL. While the ICCGS recommends termination of the Sondrestrom ISR and a reduction of $3 million to Arecibo, it also recommends that ancillary instruments at Sondrestrom and Arecibo compete for support through the grants program, as discussed in Section 5.1.1. ICCGS made a similar recommendation regarding the CRRL, currently funded out of the facilities budget at a level of $1.2 million, as discussed in Section 5.1.2.

Conclusion: Increased pressures on core and targeted grants may result from competing the operation of ancillary instruments on the Sondrestrom and Arecibo Observatory sites, and the Consortium of Resonance and Rayleigh Lidars.

5.3.1 CubeSats

The survey was enthusiastic about CubeSat missions, highlighting their ability to diversify measurements, to integrate platforms of different sizes, and to make multi-point measurements.27 As a result, the survey recommended that NSF support at least two new CubeSat missions every year. The technological capabilities of CubeSats have advanced significantly since the survey was published in 2013, and the interest in the platform has also increased greatly.

The ICCGS expressed concern that the science impact per dollar invested by NSF, as measured by science publications, is not as high for CubeSats as it is for individual investigator grants awarded by GS, for example. However, the ICCGS also found that “the NSF CubeSat program has been an educational success and has supported many engineering advances.”28

ICCGS recommended a stricter set of guidelines for CubeSat missions, with the key selection criterion being the potential impact of the science results (as opposed to the educational or engineering benefits of a mission; ICCGS Recs. 6.23-6.26). The ICCGS recommended that GS support the two new mission starts per year suggested by the survey only if additional funding is obtained from elsewhere within NSF—from the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) or the Directorate for Engineering (ENG), for example—or from other agencies,29 and that the GS investment in the CubeSat program be reduced from the current $1.5 million per year

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26 Ibid., p. 107.

27 NRC, 2013, Solar and Space Physics, p. 81.

28 NSF, 2016, Investments in Critical Capabilities for Geospace Science 2016 to 2025, p. 67.

29 Ibid., Recs. 4.8, 6.27, and 8.9.

Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×

to $1 million per year by 2020 (ICCGS Rec. 9.6) to reflect “a focus on mission concept, instrument development, and science exploitation of the data,” and a reduced scope of mission development.

While the PRC was conducting its review, the NRC convened a committee to assess the scientific potential of CubeSats. The resulting report, Achieving Science with CubeSats: Thinking Inside the Box, was not available during the PRC’s work, but included a number of findings that address the PRC’s concerns. Achieving Science considered the GS CubeSat program as especially successful at innovation, and made the point that “the [GS CubeSat] program is particularly well aligned with the goals and recommendations of the 2013 decadal survey for solar and space physics.”30 The analysis of CubeSat-related publications in Achieving Science indicated that although the majority of peer-reviewed publications are engineering papers (74% of the total refereed publications, 2000-2015), the missions are producing increasing numbers of science papers, and solar and space physics papers outnumber all other science disciplines (13% of the total refereed publications, 2000-2015) (Appendix B in Achieving Science). Nearly all of the solar and space physics science papers derive from NSF-funded CubeSat projects. Furthermore, Achieving Science noted that almost as many NSF missions are planned for 2016-2018 (7 missions, 11 CubeSats) as there have been in the prior 10 years (8 missions, 12 CubeSats). The science returns and resulting publications from these upcoming missions have yet to be realized.

Achieving Science concluded that CubeSats have demonstrated their capability to be a platform for high-value science and recommended that NSF broaden opportunities for participation in CubeSats to disciplines beyond solar and space physics, with these disciplines contributing to the cost of this expanded suite of missions.31 These additional investments are particularly important because constellation/swarm missions—which are the most promising for understanding, for example, magnetosphere-ionosphere-atmosphere coupling—are not currently available within the current GS program envelope. Also, Achieving Science highlighted that the growth of CubeSat programs outside of NSF has not diminished the importance of GS’s low-resource, science-and-innovation-driven CubeSat program.32

Both ICCGS and Achieving Science recommend that GS partner with other disciplines within NSF to enhance the science return from CubeSat missions, and both reports stress the educational value of CubeSats. The assessment committee also endorses this approach. The rapid increase in innovation for and interest in the CubeSat platform has only recently created a market for many standard components to be purchased premade, allowing future CubeSat teams to focus more on instrument development and scientific analysis of returned data and less on repetitive engineering. The potential for high-value science and for the education of scientists via CubeSats is continuing to increase. Therefore, the assessment committee is concerned that unless partnerships are established, the GS CubeSat program will be unduly slowed by the ICCGS’s recommendation to reduce the budget by one-third. Even though spacecraft development costs may be lowered by using commercially available components, more funding may be needed to develop new, innovative instruments. With the increase in CubeSat success rates,33 additional support for the in-orbit operation of missions may also be needed.

Conclusion: The ICCGS and ASC findings regarding GS’s CubeSat program are broadly consistent. The assessment committee is concerned, however, that the one-third decrease in the budget for the CubeSat program recommended in the ICCGS report will have an unduly negative effect on the scientific and educational results highlighted by ASC if funding from outside GS cannot be found.

Recommendation: The assessment committee endorses the Investments in Critical Capabilities for Geospace Science 2016 to 2025 recommendation to seek partnerships for CubeSats outside of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Geospace Section. However, mindful of the growing potential of CubeSats to be platforms

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30 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), 2016, Achieving Science with CubeSats: Thinking Inside the Box, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.

31 Ibid., pp. 24-27.

32 NASEM, 2016, Achieving Science with CubeSats.

33Achieving Science analyzed the success rates of all CubeSat missions and NSF CubeSat missions in particular. For all CubeSats, success rates were 35 percent from 2000 to 2007 and 71 percent from 2008 to 2015. For all NSF CubeSats, the overall success rate is 83 percent (taking into account reflights that occur within the same project). See NASEM, 2016, Achieving Science, pp. 21-23.

Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×

for science and of the 2013 solar and space physics decadal survey recommendation to augment support for CubeSats, the committee recommends that the NSF Geospace Section carefully consider the impact associated with decreasing funding for the CubeSat program before additional resources through intra-divisional partnerships can be obtained.

5.3.2 Faculty Development in Space Science

The survey gives a strong endorsement to the FDSS program and curriculum development programs and recommends expansion of the program to 4-year institutions of higher education. The ICCGS report does not recommend for or against the expansion that was recommended by the survey but expresses a counterargument for doing so based on “fears that without adequate institutional support for research and relief from the large teaching load typical of four-year colleges, these faculty will have difficulty succeeding,”34 which is a legitimate concern in the view of the assessment committee. However, ICCGS Rec. 4.1 recommends that FDSS and CAREER programs “should be continued as resources allow,” without making a specific statement regarding the expansion.

5.4 WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT AND DIVERSITY

The ICCGS report’s main recommendations regarding workforce development—which includes undergraduate and graduate educational opportunities, professional development at all levels, and workforce diversity—were that current GS efforts in these areas should continue. Furthermore, the ICCGS emphasized the importance of data collection in assessing the effectiveness of these efforts to increase participation of African Americans, Latino/as, Native Americans, and women in geospace science.

At the undergraduate and graduate student levels, the ICCGS explicitly mentions the Center for Integrated Space Weather Modeling and incoherent scatter radar summer schools, student attendance at the GEM, CEDAR, and SHINE summer meetings, and the research experiences for undergraduates (REU) programs in solar and space physics as worthy of continued support (ICCGS Recs. 4.3-4.5). The ICCGS also highlights the educational component of the CubeSat program and recommends that as part of its efforts to obtain broader support for this program, GS should seek to partner with the Directorate for Education and Human Resources. Finally, the ICCGS stated that teacher training, citizen science, and public outreach programs should continue to receive GS support (ICCGS Recs. 4.8-4.9).

For post-graduate scientists, the ICCGS endorsed continued support of the AGS Postdoctoral Research Fellowship and of the FDSS and Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) programs as resources allow (ICCGS Recs. 4.1 and 4.2). It also encouraged improved tracking of geospace Ph.D. recipients: GS could request that PIs include information about their former graduate students’ employment in their final grant reports, for example (ICCGS Rec. 4.7). The ICCGS also recommended that GS should work with NSF to include a “Solar and Space Physics” category in the “Survey of Earned Doctorates” that it administers (ICCGS Rec. 4.10).

The ICCGS examined workforce diversity primarily through the lens of the available data for the gender/ ethnicity/race of FDSS and AGS CAREER awardees, and of Colorado REU, Space Weather Research, Education and Development Initiative (SW REDI), and SHINE summer workshop students. Its principal finding is that these programs appear to be doing well at promoting gender and ethnic diversity,35 but the report urges that “metrics on the diversity of participants should be kept on all such funded programs and reported annually” (ICCGS Rec. 4.5).

These modest, essentially “stay the course,” recommendations of the ICCGS stand in contrast with its ambitious Recommendation 4.6, which states, “The GS and the GS community should be in the vanguard of NSF initiatives to promote engagement of women and under-served populations in all aspects of geospace science from school to research proposal writing to leadership in GS activities.”

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34 NSF, 2016, Investments in Critical Capabilities for Geospace Science 2016 to 2025, p. 25.

35 “The NSF-sponsored REU program and SW REDI program provide undergraduates with opportunities to experience research in the space sciences and to make better informed career decisions. These programs are also doing well in promoting gender and ethnic diversity while training the next generation of researchers.” (NSF, 2016, p. 27)

Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×

Furthermore, the assessment committee disagrees with the ICCGS finding that programs called out in this report are doing well at promoting diversity (see Appendix C). In addition, the ICCGS’s comment that “far more Hispanics and Native Americans are drawn to the biological sciences than the physical sciences, perhaps for cultural reasons and perhaps because these fields are considered less mathematical” is an outdated stereotype.36

Achieving and maintaining a diverse workforce in geospace sciences is in the best interest of the profession and is integral to NSF’s strategic goals and objectives.37 The underrepresentation of minorities in solar and space physics and analogous fields must be actively confronted and regarded as a high-priority goal.38 Lack of diversity in minority role models sends a negative message to young people and may discourage them from pursuing science and engineering careers. Although some progress has been achieved at increasing the participation of women,39 particularly at the undergraduate and graduate levels, the lack of progress in recruiting and retaining minorities at all levels is concerning and must be addressed.40

Recommendation: The assessment committee recommends that to realize Recommendation 4.6 of Investments in Critical Capabilities for Geospace Science 2016 to 2025 fully, the lack of diversity and representation in solar and space physics should be attacked aggressively. The National Science Foundation Geospace Section should identify best practices and provide guidance for new approaches to diversifying geospace.

Some options to consider for implementation of this recommendation are the following:

  1. Evaluating existing NSF programs that focus on increasing diversity (such as those in AST41 and NCAR42) to identify those whose elements are worth importing into GS;
  2. Creating a clearinghouse of AGS and GS diversity-related programs and activities by featuring them prominently on the NSF, AGS, and GS websites;
  3. Leveraging the recently created NSF-wide INCLUDES initiative43 to jump-start new GS-specific diversity programming;
  4. Supporting increased outreach of the GEM/CEDAR/SHINE communities to national societies focused on diversity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in general and physics in particular—for example, through attendance at meetings of the National Society of Black Physicists, the National Society of Hispanic Physicists, and the American Physical Society Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics; and
  5. Encouraging the GEM/CEDAR/SHINE community leadership and organizational teams to develop clear goals for diversity. As competed programs, GEM/CEDAR/SHINE should be required to respond to announcements of opportunity with explicit plans in this regard.

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36 University of California Hastings College of the Law, 2014, “Double Jeopardy? Gender Bias Against Women of Color in Science,” published online at www.worklifelaw.org, http://www.uchastings.edu/news/articles/2015/01/double-jeopardy-report.pdf.

37 NRC, 2011, Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.; NASEM, 2015, Innovation, Diversity, and the SBIR/STTR Programs: Summary of a Workshop, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.; NSF, 2014, Investing in Science, Engineering, and Education for the Nation’s Future: National Science Foundation Strategic Plan for 2014-2018,https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2014/nsf14043/nsf14043.pdf.

38 M. Moldwin and C. Morrow, 2016, Research career persistence for solar and space physics PhD, Space Weather 14(6):384-390.; American Institute of Physics (AIP), 2013, Women among Physics and Astronomy Faculty, College Park, Md., https://www.aip.org/sites/default/files/statistics/faculty/womenfac-pa-10.pdf; AIP, 2014, African Americans and Hispanics among Physics and Astronomy Faculty, College Park, Md., https://www.aip.org/sites/default/files/statistics/faculty/africanhisp-fac-pa-12.pdf.

39 AIP, 2014, Astronomy Enrollments and Degrees, College Park, Md., https://www.aip.org/sites/default/files/statistics/undergrad/enrolldegreesa-12.3.pdf.

40 AIP, 2014, Trends in Physics PhDs, College Park, Md., https://www.aip.org/sites/default/files/statistics/graduate/trendsphds-p-12.2.pdf.

41 For example, the Partnerships in Astronomy and Astrophysics Research and Education program; NSF, “Partnerships in Astronomy & Astrophysics Research and Education (PAARE),” accessed October 12, 2016, https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=501046&org=NSF.

42 National Center for Atmospheric Research, “Diversity, Education and Outreach,” https://ncar.ucar.edu/diversity-education-outreach/diversity-education-and-outreach, accessed October 11, 2016.

43 NSF, 2016, “Dear Colleague Letter: NSF INCLUDES (Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science),” released February 22, 2016, https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2016/nsf16048/nsf16048.jsp.

Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×

5.5 PARTNERSHIPS AND OPPORTUNITIES

The charge to the PRC included the directive to “take into consideration the national and international Geospace Sciences landscape and the consequences of its recommendations for domestic and international partnerships.”44 The domestic and international landscape is broad and a large number of programs and activities relevant to geospace sciences are identified and discussed in ICCGS Chapter 8. These include programs within AGS (see also Section 3.2), the NSF-GEO directorate, cross-directorate programs, foundation-wide programs, and interagency programs (Table 5.1). The ICCGS also discusses investments in international facilities and programs, including the Class 1 ISRs at Jicamarca, Arecibo, and Canada; SuperDARN, and initiatives such as AMPERE, SuperMAG, and Madrigal that harvest data from international sources.

ICCGS recommendations with regard to programs within NSF are to encourage coordination between the NSF-AGS director, GS section head, and the NCAR HAO director (ICCGS Rec. 8.1); for the GS head to coordinate with the Division of Polar Programs director (ICCGS Rec. 8.2); for GS program managers to encourage their PIs to pursue cross-directorate co-funding opportunities such as PREEVENTS (ICCGS Rec. 8.3), with the GS stake to be funded, if possible, from the strategic grants or facilities budget lines; and for GS to coordinate with the heads and program managers in other relevant divisions and directorates (ICCGS Rec. 8.4).

The ICCGS discusses NSF investments in solar facilities, which are at a level of $13 million annually, comparable to the current GS investment in facilities. The NSO facilities portfolio is administered by NSO and funded through AST, with the exception of the Mauna Loa Solar Observatory that is administered by NCAR/HAO. The flagship facility is the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST), currently under construction and slated for operations in 2019. Also of great importance is the NSO Integrated Synoptic Program (NISP) under which the Global Oscillations Network Group (GONG) and the Synoptic Optical Long-term Investigations of the Sun (SOLIS) programs are operated. NSF also funds the National Radio Astronomical Observatory (NRAO) which operates the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the Jansky Very Large Array, both of which have unique solar capabilities but are not solar dedicated.45 NRAO is also a partner in plans for a next-generation radioheliograph (FASR, the Frequency-Agile Solar Radiotelescope), a not-yet-funded midscale project that was highly ranked by decadal surveys (Section 5.2.1).46 Hence, current and new facilities for solar observing lie outside the AGS and the GS portfolio. Given the importance of solar observations, including synoptic monitoring, for the geospace sciences, close coordination between AGS and AST is necessary, as emphasized by the survey.

The ICCGS urges GS to encourage and work with PIs applying for and receiving MRI funds and to plan for those projects that may result in requests for M&O support (ICCGS Rec. 8.5). Similarly, the ICCGS notes that concepts for geospace facilities requiring MREFC investments may emerge from the community, and GS should encourage the development of these potentially transformative facility concepts (ICCGS Rec. 8.6) with the caveat that GS plans for how the M&O costs of a facility of this scale would be accommodated (ICCGS Rec. 8.7).

With regard to interagency partnerships, the ICCGS recommends continuing the NSF/DOE partnership in Basic Plasma Science and Engineering (ICCGS Rec. 8.11), the multiagency partnership in CCMC (ICCGS Rec. 8.12), in the NASA/NSF partnership for Collaborative Space Weather Modeling (ICCGS Rec. 8.13), and recommends establishing a new partnership with NASA for Grand Challenge Projects (ICCGS Rec. 8.14). The ICCGS recommends caution regarding legacy instrumentation funded by DOD programs. The assumption of M&O costs by GS for such instruments needs to be considered in the wider context of a senior review process (ICCGS Rec. 8.10).

The potential impacts of ICCGS recommendations, particularly those related to GS facilities, on domestic and international partnerships are not considered by the ICCGS in detail. The closure of the Sondrestrom ISR and the curtailment of funding to Arecibo Observatory represent significant impacts on two facilities, one international and one domestic. The recommendation to explore entry of the United States into the EISCAT Scientific Association represents a new international partnership intended, in part, to mitigate the wider impact of the recommended closure of the Sondrestrom ISR. Given that Arecibo Observatory has been funded through a partnership, and that the ICCGS recommends (ICCGS Recs. 7.5 and 9.11) to curtail the support provided since 2008 by GS, the impact

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44 NSF, 2016, Investments in Critical Capabilities for Geospace Science 2016 to 2025, p. 7.

45 The ICCGS discusses the NRAO Solar Radio Burst Spectrometer at Green Bank, but this instrument has not been operational since 2012.

46 NRC, 2013, Solar and Space Physics, p. 118.

Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×

TABLE 5.1 Partnerships and Opportunities for National Science Foundation (NSF) Geospace Identified by Investments in Critical Capabilities for Geospace Science 2016 to 2025, Chapter 8

Programs within NSF-AGS Interagency Partnerships

National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) High Altitude Observatory (HAO)

AGS Postdoctoral Research Fellowships Program

Department of Defense

Air Force Office of Scientific Research

Defense University Research Instrumentation Program

Department of Energy

Partnership in Basic Plasma Science and Engineering

NASA

NASA/NSF Partnership for Collaborative Space Weather Modeling

Community Coordinated Modeling Center (CCMC)

Grand Challenges Projects

NOAA

Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC)

National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI)

Global Oscillation Network Group (GONG)

NSF Science Technology Center (STC), Center for Integrated Space Weather Modeling (CISM)

Programs within NSF Geosciences

Division of Polar Programs (PLR)

Research in Hazards and Disasters (Hazards SEES)

Prediction of and Resilience against Extreme Events (PREEVENTS)

NSF Cross-Directorate Programs

Division of Astronomical Sciences

National Solar Observatory (NSO) Integrated Synoptic Program (NISP)

Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST)

Virtual Solar Observatory

National Radio Astronomical Observatory (NRAO)

EarthCube

NSF-wide Programs International Partnerships

Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI)

Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC)

Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation (SI2)

Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education (INSPIRE)

EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Program

Incoherent Scatter Radar at Jicamarca, Peru

Resolute Bay Incoherent Scatter Radars in Canada (RISR-N and RISR-R)

SuperDARN

SuperMAG

Madrigal Database (harvests international data)

AMPERE (harvests international data)

EISCAT and EISCAT 3D

NOTE: AGS, Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences; AMPERE, Active Magnetosphere and Planetary Electrodynamics Response Experiment; EISCAT, European Incoherent Scatter Scientific Association; EPSCoR, Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research; NSF, National Science Foundation.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation, 2016, Investments in Critical Capabilities for Geospace Science 2016 to 2025, Geospace Section of the Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Science, February 5, https://www.nsf.gov/geo/adgeo/geospace-review/geospace-portfolio-reviewfinal-rpt-2016.pdf.

on the Arecibo Observatory as a whole may be substantial. The ICCGS did not assess, nor was it in a position to assess, the potential impact of its recommendations for Arecibo on the current funding arrangement. Neither did the ICCGS assess what the scientific impact of the loss of the ISR capability at Arecibo would be to the wider geospace community or attempt to make recommendations to mitigate that loss.

Finding: ICCGS recommendations regarding facilities strongly affect two facilities, one international (Sondrestrom) and one domestic (Arecibo). Since Arecibo is funded by a partnership, the recommended action regarding Arecibo may have wider scientific and budgetary impacts.

The assessment committee notes that several other international programs that were not included in the ICCGS can potentially contribute to the GS goals, including the availability of distributed data, model development, and basic and applied research. For example, the International Space Weather Initiative47 is a United Nations-sponsored

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47 International Space Weather Initiative, http://www.iswi-secretariat.org/, accessed October 11, 2016.

Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×

activity that has fostered scientific collaboration and instrument deployment around the globe. Through this program, over 1,000 ground-based instruments have been deployed in dozens of countries.

Similarly, research and modeling efforts are occurring globally. The European Space Agency’s Space Situational Awareness program48 is supporting the development and testing of predictive space weather models and the development of a Virtual Space Weather Modeling Centre.49 Within the European Union, the Horizon 2020 funding program includes research to advance space weather capabilities.

A new nation-wide project has just begun in Japan, titled the Project for Solar-Terrestrial Environment Prediction.50 This project is focused on the synergistic development of solar-terrestrial physics research and the next-generation space weather forecasting capabilities. Representatives of this project are actively seeking participation from international collaborators.

Conclusion: A number of international partnership opportunities exist that could be broadly utilized, particularly as the geospace science focus evolves to having a larger emphasis on system science and the development of predictive capabilities.

Recommendation: Assessing all possible international partnerships was beyond the charge given to the Portfolio Review Committee. However, when considering the implementation of the portfolio recommended by Investments in Critical Capabilities for Geospace Science 2016 to 2025, the National Science Foundation (NSF) Geospace Section should continue to maintain an awareness of and explore opportunities to leverage measurements available from international programs. The potential value of these observations for fundamental research, for the development of system and data assimilative models, and for the improvement of predictive capabilities should be considered as an integral component of the broader NSF observing program.

__________________

48 European Space Agency, “Space Situational Awareness,” http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Operations/Space_Situational_Awareness, accessed October 11, 2016.

49 European Space Agency, “Virtual Space Weather Modelling Centre,” last update March 3, 2016, https://esa-vswmc.eu/.

50 Institute for Space-Earth Environmental Research (ISEE) Nagoya University, “Project for Solar-Terrestrial Environment Prediction,” http://www.pstep.jp/?lang=en, accessed October 11, 2016.

Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
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Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×
Page 23
Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×
Page 24
Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×
Page 25
Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×
Page 26
Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×
Page 27
Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×
Page 28
Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×
Page 29
Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×
Page 30
Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×
Page 31
Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×
Page 32
Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×
Page 33
Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×
Page 34
Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×
Page 35
Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×
Page 36
Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×
Page 37
Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×
Page 38
Suggested Citation:"5 The NSF Geospace Section Portfolio Recommended by the ICCGS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24666.
×
Page 39
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At the request of the Advisory Committee for Geosciences of the National Science Foundation (NSF), a review of the Geospace Section of the NSF Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences was undertaken in 2015. The Portfolio Review Committee was charged with reviewing the portfolio of facilities, research programs, and activities funded by Geospace Section and to recommend critical capabilities and the balance of investments needed to enable the science program articulated in the 2013 NRC decadal survey Solar and Space Physics: A Science for a Technological Society. The Portfolio Review Committee's report Investments in Critical Capabilities for Geospace Science 2016 to 2025 (ICCGS) was accepted by the Advisory Committee for Geosciences in April 2016.

Assessment of the National Science Foundation's 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review provides an independent assessment of the ICCGS report. This publication assesses how well the ICCGS provides a clear set of findings, conclusions, and recommendations for Geospace Section that align with the science priorities of the NRC decadal survey, and adequately take into account issues such as the current budget outlook and the science needs of the community. Additionally, this study makes recommendations focused on options and considerations for NSF's implementation of the ICCGS recommendations.

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