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Readiness for the Upcoming Solar Maximum
from the solar minimum and the current rise toward maximum. The extreme events of solar maximum like those ensuing from the March 1989 and 1991 storm periods are expected to provide the most stringent tests for the model development, but only if the relevant spacecraft data are available to constrain the models.
Having a full suite of solar and geospace instrumentation in place will also provide spinoffs in other disciplines of space science: Astronomers will have new insights into stellar magnetism and emissions, astrophysicists will find new analogies regarding particle sources and acceleration mechanisms in stellar environments, investigators in the Origins program will better understand the central stars in their extrasolar planetary systems and the effects of those stars on their surrounding planets, planetary scientists will have a basis for better modeling past Martian climate variability and for understanding how an active early Sun affected conditions on the surface of Mars (and Earth), and Earth scientists will have the information needed to physically model solar variability effects on our own planet.
Researchers recognize that each solar cycle is unique in its impact on Earth's environment. Solar cycles 19 and 22 were extremely active, cycles 20 and 21 comparatively benign. We now have a unique capability to capitalize on whatever the Sun generates that will affect Earth 's environment during the maximum in solar cycle 23. The observations and the scientific results forthcoming from a concerted effort by the solar-terrestrial community will enhance the basic understanding of solar phenomena, which will in turn improve the predictability of environmental perturbations that affect Earth satellites, communications, power grid disruptions, and other aspects of technology that affect our lives.