Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

SPR: The right name?



Is the name “Solar Planetary Relationships” too vague and broad to adequately describe the type of work we do in our Section? For example, the prime “relationship” between the Sun and the planets is, of course, gravitational attraction. However, few in SPR regard orbital mechanics as a principal research thrust. We study the Sun and the planets, but the “relationship” aspect is limited to that affected by solar wind plasma and fields, energetic particles and solar photons.

I have the feeling that a more descriptive name could be beneficial, but to what should we change it? What title, if any, would be agreeable to everyone? The relevant section of the Journal of Geophysical Research has the title “Space Physics.” NASA's Office of Space Science has a a division with the same name. Some of us study plasma physics, so “Space Plasma Physics” might be a better title. However, those ? 30–40%l of us who are in the SA subsection are involved largely with the study of neutral and ion chemistry in the upper atmosphere/ionosphere. None of the above names are particularly relevant to this portion of our work. The term “aeronomy” (measurement of air), coined by Sidney Chapman, is used by many university departments and in the titles of international conferences. Thus a title such as “Space Physics and Aeronomy” is even better (but longer). However, there are “aeronomers” who do not like the label, either for themselves or for their laboratories. A more serious problem is that the term is not in most dictionaries (not in Webster's Third New International Unabridged English Dictionary, 1966), so the man on the street probably will not understand this at all (perhaps we should write to Websters to get this changed!).