Conclusions and Recommendations for NSF

Overall, NSF appears well prepared to face the scientific opportunities and technological challenges of the upcoming solar maximum. The committees thus primarily encourage NSF to continue its efforts and to supplement them as much as possible.

  • The committees recommend that NSF continue its leadership role in the National Space Weather Program and champion stronger interagency involvement in the NSWP to maximize the nation's benefit from the program during the solar maximum.

  • The committees also recommend that NSF consider initiating interagency discussion of a specific solar maximum campaign similar to that developed for the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 event.

As noted above, the committees do not make recommendations about the future of the NSF-funded ground-based observatories as these are the subject of an ongoing NRC study.


DOD Roles and Responsibilities

DOD supports space environmental observing, forecasting, and research focused on improving the effectiveness and robustness of military operational systems. These systems include spacecraft (primarily provided by the Air Force and the Navy), ground-based communications and navigation links, and numerous installations dedicated to surveillance and monitoring. Day-to-day space weather services (including observations, forecasts, and warnings) are provided by the 55th Space Weather Squadron (SWS; formerly the 50th Weather Squadron) at Falcon AFB, Colorado. The 55th SWS makes use of the data services of NOAA's SEC in Boulder. The related space physics research activities are shared by the Air Force and the Navy through the Air Force Phillips Laboratory and the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and through their externally funded research programs administered by the AFOSR and the ONR.

The Navy's research effort is concentrated at NRL and is based largely on space experiments funded by NASA. The situation at NRL is unique because of the “corporate laboratory” type of organization it has adopted. The NRL staff scientists can compete for and carry out investigations on NASA missions. Other support comes indirectly from the ONR through the NRL director 's office that receives proposals from NRL scientists. The two primary areas of focus at NRL relevant to the solar maximum are solar physics and upper-atmosphere physics. The Air Force research effort currently is concentrated in the Geophysics Directorate of Phillips Laboratory at Hanscom AFB. The Space Effects Division operates in a more agency-specific manner in that projects generally originate with the Air Force, with more restricted civilian program involvement. However, there are collaborations on spacecraft instrumentation with other agencies such as NASA and NOAA, through which Air Force needs can best be met. Funds also have been available to bring the expertise of external researchers to bear on Air Force projects, although these funds have been sharply reduced of late. The previous program of external funding was focused on designing operational models for space weather services. The 55th SWS was to be the beneficiary of these programs, although it is managed and operated separately from the Phillips Laboratory 's Geophysics Directorate. There are also researchers at

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