The imperiled future of solar-terrestrial research in the former Soviet Union



From the beginning of solar-terrestrial research (STR) during the International Geophysical Year 1957/58, the Soviet Union made substantial contributions to this new discipline. In many areas, such as magnetic pulsations, cosmic ray modulation, plasmasphere structure and dynamics, ionospheric modification, theoretical space plasma physics, and planetary ionospheres, Soviet scientists have pioneered and excelled.

Some unique facts call for vigorous participation by the former Soviet Union (FSU) in the Solar-Terrestrial Energy Program 1990–1997 (STEP) of the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) Scientific Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Physics (SCOSTEP) (see, for instance, Rostoker [1990]). There are the existing brain power in many related disciplines, with particular strength in theoretical physics and analytical methods; the area's geographic importance, especially Russia's vast longitudinal extent at high northern latitudes; the existing magnetic, optical, and ionospheric observatory networks throughout the country, especially in the Arctic and important Antarctic bases; space mission capability with existing and planned satellite missions and a stock of available prototype spacecraft with their launch vehicles; an existing bank of STR data, some of it formerly classified, waiting to be analyzed; and ongoing research on “controversialrdquo; topics such as the search for solar-terrestrial coupling effects on biological and human systems and the study of earthquake precursor effects in the ionosphere.