Definition team of NASA's “Living with a Star” Geospace Mission sets science priorities



For decades, the geospace science community has emphasized the importance of solar influences on magnetospheric and ionospheric plasma dynamics, and the consequences of those influences on Earth- and space-based technological systems. In 2000, NASA presented a compelling case for this new research to the United States Congress, which awarded NASAs Space Science Enterprise with a new initiative, Living HHMH with a Star (LWS), with a goal “to better study solar variability and understand its effects on humanity.” The primary goal of LWS is to develop the scientific understanding necessary to enable the U.S. to effectively address those aspects of the connected Sun-Earth system that directly affect life and society.

The NASA personnel associated with the Sun-Earth connection theme of the Space Science Enterprise eagerly stepped up to this challenge and began an accelerated activity to define LWS. As part of its definition activities, NASA appointed a panel, the LWS Geospace Mission Definition Team (GMDT), chaired by space physicist Paul Kintner of Cornell University. The panel was composed of scientists from universities, industry and government laboratories, and representatives from both the research and space operations user communities. In a recently released report, it presented recommendations for the science goals and implementation approach for the Geospace Project of the LWS program, a crucial component of the National Space Weather Program.