National Solar Observatory and as part of the annual CEDAR, GEM, and SHINE meetings. The committee notes the particular need for a replacement for the CISM school and also the desirability of providing opportunities for professional development of graduate students via community workshops. In addition, the skills needed to become a successful scientist go beyond such formal discipline training and include interpersonal and communication skills, awareness of career opportunities, and leadership and laboratory management ability. The committee endorses NSF programs that support postdoctoral and graduate student mentoring and recommends that NSF enable opportunities for focused community workshops that directly address professional development skills for graduate students. Finally, the committee endorses programs that specifically target enhancing diversity within solar and space physics, such as the NSF Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences program.


Solar and space physics is intrinsically multidisciplinary and appears in more than one NSF division or directorate. The National Solar Observatory and the ATST are currently within the Astronomy Division of the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate. The AGS Division within the Geosciences Directorate manages ionospheric and magnetospheric science, but also solar-heliospheric and space weather science. AGS is also the home of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and its High Altitude Observatory (HAO), which supports a broad range of research topics ranging from the Sun to Earth.

Funding Cross-Cutting Science

The placement of solar and space physics in multiple divisions and directorates arises from the cross-cutting relevance of the science. However, funding for basic research on subjects that are not clearly aligned with one division, and thus have no clear home at NSF, can be difficult to obtain. For example, sun-asa-star and planetary magnetospheric research falls between the AGS and Astronomy divisions. Another timely example is the science of the outer heliosphere. Recent observations of the outer heliosphere by NASA satellites raise fundamental science questions pertaining to the structure of shocks, where and how magnetic reconnection takes place, and how particles are accelerated, all of which are subjects integral to the Sun-Earth-heliosphere system science program. The survey committee recommends in the “Integrate” element of the DRIVE initiative that NSF ensure that funding is available for basic research in subjects that fall between sections, divisions, and directorates, and that in particular the outer heliosphere be considered within the scope of the AGS Division. The committee further calls attention to the importance of maintaining a laboratory program to probe fundamental plasma physics.

Heliophysics Science Centers

Another way to promote cross-disciplinary research is via critical-mass groupings of observers, theorists, modelers, and computer scientists who together target grand-challenge questions in the field of heliophysics, as recommended in “Venture” of the DRIVE initiative. The periodic competition for heliophysics science centers (HSCs) with substantial funding (at the level of $1 million to $3 million per year) will focus attention on the field in a way that is not possible with the present programmatic mix. The NSF Physics Frontier Centers are successful examples that have become highly competitive in the university community and might serve as models for the HSCs. They also have great potential for attracting faculty and students via their focus on exciting and challenging science.

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