Progress Toward Implementation
of the 2013 Decadal Survey for
A Midterm Assessment
Committee on the Review of Progress Toward Implementing the Decadal Survey—
Solar and Space Physics: A Science for a Technological Society
Space Studies Board
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
A Consensus Study Report of
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This study is based on work supported by Contract NNH17CB02B with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any agency or organization that provided support for the project.
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Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/25668
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Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Progress Toward Implementation of the 2013 Decadal Survey for Solar and Space Physics: A Midterm Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25668.
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COMMITTEE ON THE REVIEW OF PROGRESS TOWARD IMPLEMENTING THE DECADAL SURVEY—SOLAR AND SPACE PHYSICS: A SCIENCE FOR A TECHNOLOGICAL SOCIETY
ROBYN MILLAN, Dartmouth College, Co-Chair
THOMAS N. WOODS, University of Colorado, Co-Chair
TIMOTHY S. BASTIAN, National Radio Astronomy Observatory
MONICA G. BOBRA, Stanford University
ANTHEA J. COSTER, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
EDWARD E. DELUCA, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
SCOTT L. ENGLAND, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
STEPHEN A. FUSELIER, Southwest Research Institute
RAMON E. LOPEZ, University of Texas, Arlington
JANET G. LUHMANN, University of California, Berkeley
KATARIINA NYKYRI, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
JENS OBERHEIDE, Clemson University
MERAV OPHER, Boston University
CAROLUS J. SCHRIJVER, Lockheed-Martin (Retired)
JOSHUA SEMETER, Boston University
JEFFREY P. THAYER, University of Colorado, Boulder
ALAN M. TITLE, NAS/NAE,1 Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center
ARTHUR CHARO, Senior Program Officer, Study Director
COLLEEN HARTMAN, Director, Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board / Space Studies Board
MIA BROWN, Research Associate
GAYBRIELLE HOLBERT, Program Assistant
SARAH E. MORAN, Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Intern
1 Member, National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering.
SPACE STUDIES BOARD
FIONA HARRISON, NAS,1 California Institute of Technology, Chair (until January 2019)
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
JOSEPH FULLER, JR., Futron Corporation
SARAH GIBSON, National Center for Atmospheric Research
VICTORIA 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, Universities Space Research Association
DAVID J. McCOMAS, Princeton University
LARRY PAXTON, Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory
ELIOT QUATAERT, University of California, Berkeley
BARBARA SHERWOOD LOLLAR, 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 HARTMAN, Director
ANDREA REBHOLZ, Administrative Coordinator
TANJA PILZAK, Manager, Program Operations
CELESTE A. NAYLOR, Information Management Associate
MEG A. KNEMEYER, Financial Officer
1 Member, National Academy of Sciences.
2 Member, National Academy of Engineering.
Solar and Space Physics: A Science for a Technological Society1 was the second National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine “decadal survey” in the disciplines often referred to as heliophysics. Building on the research accomplishments realized in the period since publication of the inaugural decadal survey for heliophysics,2 the report presented a program of basic and applied research for the period 2013-2022 to
- Improve scientific understanding of the mechanisms that drive the Sun’s activity and the fundamental physical processes underlying near-Earth plasma dynamics;
- Determine the physical interactions of Earth’s atmospheric layers in the context of the connected Sun-Earth system; and
- Enhance greatly the capability to provide realistic and specific forecasts of Earth’s space environment that will better serve the needs of society.
Although the recommended program was directed primarily at NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF), the report also recommended actions by other federal agencies, especially the parts of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) charged with the day-to-day (operational) forecast of space weather.
In the NASA Authorization Act of 2005, Congress directed NASA to have the performance of each division in the Science Mission Directorate reviewed and assessed by the National Research Council, the operating arm of the National Academies, at 5-year intervals. Responding to this mandate for the heliophysics decadal survey, NASA, in the fall of 2018, asked the Space Studies Board of the National Academies to convene an ad hoc committee to review the alignment of their Heliophysics program with the survey.
1 National Research Council, 2013, Solar and Space Physics: A Science for a Technological Society, The National Academies Press, Washington, DC.
2 National Research Council, 2003, The Sun to the Earth —and Beyond: A Decadal Research Strategy in Solar and Space Physics, The National Academies Press, Washington, DC.
The statement of task for the midterm assessment (reprinted in Appendix A) included a request for guidance regarding implementation of the recommended portfolio for the remaining years of the current decadal survey interval, as well as actions that should be undertaken to prepare for the next decadal survey. The midterm assessment committee was also asked to consider steps to enhance the careers of solar and space physics practitioners, which is directly related to the “health” of the disciplines that comprise solar and space physics. In making its recommendations, it is important to note that the committee, per the study terms of reference, did not revisit the priorities, including those pertaining to the science objectives and associated missions recommended for development by NASA, that were made in the 2013 decadal survey.
The Committee on the Review of Progress Toward Implementing the Decadal Survey—Solar and Space Physics: A Science for a Technological Society (the “committee” or the “midterm assessment committee”) was formed in Fall 2018 and met three times in person over the course of the study.3 Biographies of the committee, chaired by Robyn Millan, Dartmouth College, and Tom Woods, University of Colorado, are provided in Appendix B. The committee also met on an approximate bi-weekly schedule via teleconference. Input from the solar and space physics community was solicited via professional society newsletters and at town hall sessions held at NSF summer workshops for its CEDAR (Coupling, Energetics, and Dynamics of Atmospheric Regions), GEM (Geospace Environment Modeling), and SHINE (Solar, Heliosphere and Interplanetary Environment) programs. A town hall was also held at a meeting of the Solar Physics Division (SPD) of the American Astronomical Society. Poster presentations about committee activities were also presented at the GEM workshop, SHINE workshop, SPD meeting, and NOAA’s Space Weather Week meeting. Agendas for the committee’s in-person meetings are shown in Appendix C.
The organization of this report is as follows: Chapter 1 provides a brief description of the field of heliophysics and the current heliophysics programs at relevant federal agencies. In Chapter 2, several science highlights in each of the three heliophysics subdisciplines are described to provide a flavor for some of the exciting science accomplishments already realized during the first part of the decade (2013-2019). Chapter 3 provides a more detailed assessment of progress toward each of the research recommendations made in the 2013 decadal survey, as well as opportunities and challenges for the remainder of the current decade. Similarly, Chapter 4 discusses recent progress and near future opportunities for the application recommendations in the 2013 decadal survey. Consideration of steps to further enhance and develop a strong and diverse workforce in order to maximize progress in heliophysics exploration and research in the coming decades is the subject of Chapter 5. Chapter 6 discusses planning that could be undertaken in preparation for the 2023-2033 decadal survey in solar and space physics. A full list of findings and the section where each is discussed in the report is provided in Appendix D, Appendix E includes a more detailed description of science progress since the 2013 decadal survey, and a full acronym list is found in Appendix F. Note: Information in this report was current as of October 10, 2019, which coincides with the date of the successful launch of NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer.
3 Disruptions, including cancelation of a planned in-person meeting, due to the federal government shutdown from late December 2018 through late January 2019 resulted in delays in the completion of this report.
Acknowledgment of Reviewers
This Consensus Study Report was 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 each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
We thank the following individuals for their review of this report:
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations of this report nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Charles F. Kennel, NAS, University of California, San Diego. He was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report 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 rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies.
1 Member, National Academy of Sciences.
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1 INTRODUCTION TO HELIOPHYSICS AND THE 2013 DECADAL SURVEY
1.1 Heliophysics Science Introduction
1.2 Fundamental Physical Processes in Heliophysics
1.3 Current Heliophysics Missions and Major Programs
1.4 Highlights of the 2013 Solar and Space Physics (Heliophysics) Decadal Survey Recommendations
1.5 Midterm Assessment Committee Charge and Report Outline
2 SCIENCE DISCOVERIES AND TECHNICAL ADVANCES
2.1 Brief Introduction of Scientific Progress
2.2 Solar and Heliospheric Physics.
2.3 Solar Wind-Magnetosphere Interactions
2.4 Atmosphere-Ionosphere-Magnetosphere Interactions.
2.5 Advances in Research Tools for Heliophysics Science
3 PROGRESS, OPPORTUNITIES, AND CHALLENGES FOR DECADAL SURVEY RESEARCH GOALS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
3.1 An Overview of Progress Toward the Decadal Research Recommendations
3.2 Baseline Priority for NASA and NSF: Complete the Current Program
3.3 Implement the DRIVE Initiative
3.4 Accelerate and Expand the Heliophysics Explorers Program
3.6 Implement a Large LWS GDC-like Mission
4 PROGRESS, OPPORTUNITIES, AND CHALLENGES FOR DECADAL SURVEY APPLICATIONS GOALS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
4.2 Recharter the National Space Weather Program
4.3 Progress on a Multi-agency Partnership to Achieve Continuity of Solar and Solar Wind Observations
4.4 Applications Recommendations
5 HELIOPHYSICS CAREER ENHANCEMENTS
5.1 Enhancing Funding Opportunities for Heliophysics Scientists
5.2 Enhancing Professional Training for Heliophysics Research
5.3 Improving Diversity in the Heliophysics Community
6 PREPARING FOR THE NEXT HELIOPHYSICS DECADAL SURVEY
6.1 Preparations before Next Decadal Survey
6.2 Considerations for Next Decadal Survey Process
6.3 Emerging Topics of Interest for the Next Decadal Survey
B Biographies of Committee Members and Staff
E Progress for Science Challenges in 2013 Heliophysics Decadal Survey