The decadal survey committee’s assessment and recommendations for the field of solar and space physics, Part I of this report, were informed to a great degree by the extensive scientific discussion and technical input of the survey’s three science discipline panels. Themes for these panels were chosen to emphasize interactions between physical domains, with the goal to further the integration of the overall research across traditional discipline boundaries. The Panel on Solar and Heliospheric Physics (SHP), Panel on Solar Wind-Magnetosphere Interactions (SWMI), and Panel on Atmosphere-Ionosphere-Magnetosphere Interactions (AIMI) were charged to summarize scientific progress and to identify the most compelling science questions emerging as targets for research within the next 10 years. The panels also were chartered to develop a prioritized approach to addressing those questions in the most productive manner, and they were encouraged to investigate and report on the broader context of their proposed research, for example, how it pertains to societal needs, and to identify technological needs and means to address the most compelling science questions.
Panel deliberations drew on information gathered at town hall meetings, three face-to-face 2.5-day panel meetings, and weekly teleconferences. The panels also made extensive use of community input received through the white papers that were submitted as part of the survey committee’s request for information1 and from briefings from other decadal survey activities, such as those involving the five cross-disciplinary working groups.2
Panel interactions with the survey committee were numerous. Each panel was assigned a liaison member who was, at the same time, also a member of the survey committee. Survey committee members also attended panel meetings to stay informed of emerging developments. Panel leads (chairs and vice chairs)
1 The survey’s website, http://sites.nationalacademies.org/SSB/CurrentProjects/SSB_056864, includes links to the request for information (RFI) and to the nearly 300 submissions received in response. The RFI is also reprinted in Appendix H of this report, and a list of responses is given in Appendix I.
2 The topics for the five working groups were Theory, Modeling, and Data Exploitation; Explorers, Suborbital, and Other Platforms; Innovations: Technology, Instruments, and Data Systems; Research to Operations/Operations to Research; and Education and Workforce.
also participated in most survey committee teleconferences and face-to-face meetings.3 Notably, panel leads were full participants in the survey committee meetings that developed the overarching scientific motivations and key science goals for the decade, the latter of which are described in detail in Chapter 1 and highlighted below:
Motivation 1. To understand our home in the solar system.
Motivation 2. To predict the changing space environment and its societal impact.
Motivation 3. To explore space to reveal universal physical processes.
Key Science Goal 1. Determine the origins of the Sun’s activity and predict the variations in the space environment.
Key Science Goal 2. Determine the dynamics and coupling of Earth’s magnetosphere, ionosphere, and atmosphere and their response to solar and terrestrial inputs.
Key Science Goal 3. Determine the interaction of the Sun with the solar system and the interstellar medium.
Key Science Goal 4. Discover and characterize fundamental processes that occur both within the heliosphere and throughout the universe.
The panels cast their scientific prioritization in the form of discipline goals and priorities, from which they derived more detailed scientific imperatives—actions that are needed to make progress—and, finally, implementation scenarios or reference mission concepts. It is important to recognize that panel-specific imperatives are not equivalent to survey report recommendations, which can be offered only by the decadal survey committee.4
The work of the three discipline panels was fundamental to the decadal survey, and it forms the foundation of Part I of this report. In particular, each of the panels’ emphases for research in the field was brought forward to the survey committee for consideration and possible action in the form of a report recommendation. In the further course of this work, a set of spacecraft mission concepts that would achieve particular science goals of each individual panel was developed and evaluated for cost and technical readiness. That evaluation process is described in Part I (Chapter 1) and in Appendix E.
3 However, panel leadership was excluded at meetings of the survey committee during the final phase of the study when the committee’s recommendations were established. These are shown in the Summary and Part I of this report.
4 The report of the decadal survey committee and its recommendations are found in Part I of this report. Key recommendations of the survey committee are aggregated in the report Summary.