The CSSP implementation plan for space plasma physics programs



Space plasma physics, a research field responsible for the dramatic beginning of the space age through the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts, has seen its research opportunities steadily diminish over the past decade. This, coupled with the increased fundamental importance of space plasma physics research and its potential applications, has placed the field in the ironic situation of being near extinction while having become a leader in basic space research. Many reports have been issued over the past decade that describe and recommend a U.S. program in space plasma physics. Of these, the recent National Academy of Science report entitled “Implementation Plan for Space Plasma Physics” presents an excellent, quantitative statement of the basic elements of such a program. In this report, we summarize these findings.