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At the AGU Chapman Conference on “Measurement Techniques in Space Plasmas” held last April in Santa Fe, N. Mex., an impressive array of novel techniques to improve our understanding of space plasmas was presented. These techniques can be used to measure the plasmas themselves, energetic particles, neutral particles, and electromagnetic waves and fields.

What impressed me most was that these techniques have been developed in the absence of significant flight opportunities sponsored by traditional sources such as NASA. Some of these instruments' techniques have been prototyped and even evolved to a third-generation stage without having any exposure to the space environment in which they are designed to function. Most of these instruments fit into NASA's goal of providing “smaller, cheaper, faster, and better” access to space.