PLANNING THE FUTURE SPACE
WEATHER OPERATIONS AND
PROCEEDINGS OF A WORKSHOP
Committee for the Space Weather Operations and Research Infrastructure Workshop
Space Studies Board
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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This activity was supported by Contract WC133R17CQ0031 with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-45433-9
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Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/26128
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Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Planning the Future Space Weather Operations and Research Infrastructure: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/26128.
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COMMITTEE FOR THE SPACE WEATHER OPERATIONS AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE WORKSHOP
MARY K. HUDSON, Dartmouth College, Co-Chair
JANET G. LUHMANN, University of California, Berkeley, Co-Chair
DANIEL N. BAKER, NAE,1 University of Colorado, Boulder, and Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics
ANTHEA J. COSTER, MIT Haystack Observatory
TAMARA L. DICKINSON, Science Matters Consulting, LLC
MARK GIBBS, UK Met Office
MAJ. JANELLE V. JENNIGES, U.S. Air Force
VICE ADM. CONRAD C. LAUTENBACHER, JR., U.S. Navy (Ret.), GeoOptics, Inc.
MARK A. OLSON, North American Electric Reliability Corporation
WILLIAM MURTAGH, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
LARRY J. PAXTON, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
TUIJA I. PULKKINEN, NAS,2 University of Michigan
PETE RILEY, Predictive Science, Inc.
RONALD E. TURNER, ANSER, Inc.
ARTHUR CHARO, Senior Program Officer, Study Director
GABRIELLE HOLBERT, Program Assistant
ROBERT BULLARD, Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Intern
COLLEEN N. HARTMAN, Director, Space Studies Board
1 Member, National Academy of Engineering.
2 Member, National Academy of Sciences.
SPACE STUDIES BOARD
MARGARET G. KIVELSON, NAS,1 University of California, Los Angeles, Chair
JAMES H. CROCKER, NAE,2 Lockheed Martin (retired), Vice Chair
GREGORY P. ASNER, NAS, Carnegie Institution for Science
JEFF M. BINGHAM, Consultant
ADAM BURROWS, NAS, Princeton University
MARY LYNNE DITTMAR, Dittmar Associates
JEFF DOZIER, University of California, Santa Barbara
VICTORIA E. HAMILTON, Southwest Research Institute
CHRYSSA KOUVELIOTOU, NAS, George Washington University
DENNIS P. LETTENMAIER, NAE, University of California, Los Angeles
ROSALY M. LOPES, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
STEPHEN J. MACKWELL, American Institute of Physics
DAVID J. MCCOMAS, Princeton University
LARRY PAXTON, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
ELIOT QUATAERT, University of California, Berkeley
BARBARA SHERWOOD LOLLAR, NAE, University of Toronto
HARLAN E. SPENCE, University of New Hampshire
MARK H. THIEMENS, NAS, University of California, San Diego
ERIKA WAGNER, Blue Origin
PAUL WOOSTER, Space Exploration Technologies
EDWARD L. WRIGHT, NAS, University of California, Los Angeles
COLLEEN N. HARTMAN, Director
TANJA PILZAK, Manager, Program Operations
CELESTE A. NAYLOR, Information Management Associate
MARGARET A. KNEMEYER, Financial Officer
RADAKA LIGHTFOOT, Financial Associate
1 Member, National Academy of Sciences.
2 Member, National Academy of Engineering.
Information about Earth’s space environment is of rapidly increasing importance, driven, in part, by the appearance of new government and commercial ventures using technologies sensitive to its variations and by plans for human exploration to the Moon and beyond. In addition, increasing understanding of how the space environment’s conditions are physically determined by solar activity and internal dynamics and other factors has made the possibility of significantly improving space weather forecasting a closer reality.
Among the recent steps taken in support of this objective was the creation in 2015 of an interagency task force on Space Weather Operations, Research, and Mitigation (SWORM) and creation in 2019 of a National Space Weather Strategy and Action Plan (NSW-SAP), under the auspices of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). SWORM and the NSW-SAP were developed to enhance national preparedness (protection, mitigation, response, and recovery) for space weather events, and to identify the activities, outcomes, and timelines that will be undertaken by the federal government to secure the infrastructures vital to national security and the economy.
As part of this initiative, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF), have begun a series of advice-seeking activities, including National Academies–organized workshops. This proceedings describes the first in a series, with a particular emphasis on future options regarding NOAA’s contributions.1
In response to a request from NOAA, developed in consultation with NASA and NSF, an ad hoc committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine was formed to explore, via a workshop, options for continuity and future enhancements of the U.S. space weather operational and research infrastructure. In particular, workshop participants (see Appendix A) were asked to
- Review current and planned U.S. and international space weather-related observational capabilities;
- Discuss baseline space weather observational needs;
- Identify programmatic and technological options to ensure continuity of the baseline, giving particular attention to options to extend the Space Weather Follow On program; and
1 NOAA, which is the primary civilian agency responsible for space weather forecasting, is the principal sponsor of the present workshop. As this activity near its conclusion, NASA and NSF, in consultation with NOAA, requested that the Academies conduct a follow-on workshop that would focus on the research agenda and observations needed to improve understanding of the Sun-Earth system that generates space weather.
- Consider options for technology, instrument, and mission development to support in situ and remote sensing space weather observations from either ground- or space-based vantage points, the latter including L1, L5, L4, GEO [geostationary orbit], and LEO [low Earth orbit].2
Originally planned as an in-person workshop, travel and other restrictions imposed in response to the novel coronavirus resulted in a virtual workshop. For convenience, the workshop was held in two parts, on June 16-17 and September 9-11, 2020, both of which were open to the public. Participants invited to the workshops included experts familiar with federal government policy and legislation concerning space weather, as well scientists from the thermosphere, ionosphere, magnetosphere, and solar-heliosphere research communities. In addition, representatives from NOAA, NASA, NSF, the Department of Defense (DoD), and from a range of other government and commercial entities, including international organizations, were invited to the workshops. In total, more than 200 participants attended, via Zoom, either or both of the June oral sessions and the September oral and poster (Appendix B) sessions. Agendas of both workshops are shown in Appendix C; presentations and posters from the workshop are available online at https://www.nationalacademies.org/spacewx-phaseI-presentations.
As specified in the statement of task for the Committee for the Space Weather Operations and Research Infrastructure Workshop (see Appendix A), this proceedings summarizes and synthesizes the discussions at the workshop without providing consensus findings or recommendations.3 Frequently, this proceedings references the views of “participants.” This term is used as a shorthand when several workshop attendees expressed similar views on a particular topic or issue. However, the statements and opinions contained in this proceedings should not be interpreted as representing a consensus among the larger body of participants.
In this workshop references to the “operational” and “research” infrastructure for space weather were not always explicit, in part because there is overlap in usage of some resources, and also because experience obtained with research infrastructure often precedes operational applications. However, implicit in the discussions was the recognition that a critical element for successful operations is access to a robust, dedicated, ground and space-based infrastructure that provides accurate, sustained, secure, and timely observations for space-weather analysis, sufficient for national needs. Examples of such operational infrastructure includes the NOAA Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites, which provide critical space weather information—both warnings and situational awareness of the space environment—to NOAA and DoD.
Improving the understanding and prediction of space weather requires enhancing existing observational capabilities by deploying new technologies. An example of a research mission with a demonstrated positive impact on operations has been the Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph on board the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory satellite, which provides key input to NOAA’s geomagnetic storm watches. Current plans for new operational missions now include coronagraphs. Thus, these categories of infrastructure were not always distinguished during the workshop.
The workshop proceedings that follows is organized by topic. As speakers at the June and September sessions sometimes addressed different aspects of the same topic, the committee has chosen to synthesize comments across sessions when appropriate. To assist a reader looking to identify the presentations that informed the write-up of a particular topic summary, the names of the most relevant presenters are shown. Note that some of the presentations at the workshop were delivered without the use of slides; their comments and those heard in the question and answer part of each workshop session informed the proceedings, but there is no written record.
2 L1, L5, and L4 refer to Lagrange points 1, 5, and 4 (https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/resources/754/what-is-a-lagrange-point); GEO is an acronym for geostationary orbit and LEO is an acronym for low Earth orbit.
3 Per National Academies’ guidelines, this proceedings does not include any recommendations or findings by the workshop organizing committee as the workshop presenters and other participants were not vetted for sources of potential bias and conflicts of interest.
The committee wishes to thank the presenters as well as the online participants for sharing their knowledge, experience, and insights. The committee is solely responsible for the content of this workshop report, which, per National Academies practices, has been reviewed by selected members of the solar and space physics community and by workshop participants for scientific accuracy and fidelity to workshop discussions.
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Acknowledgment of Reviewers
This Proceedings of a Workshop has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in making its published proceedings as sound as possible and to ensure that the proceedings meets institutional standards for clarity, objectivity and responsiveness to the charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this proceedings:
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they did not see the final draft of the Proceedings of a Workshop before its release. The review of this proceedings was overseen by Louis J. Lanzerotti, NAE, New Jersey Institute of Technology. He was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this proceedings was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this proceedings rests entirely with the author(s) and the National Academies.
1 Member, National Academy of Engineering.
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