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Distributed Arrays of Small Instruments for Solar-Terrestrial Research: Report of a Workshop - 2

Status Report From: National Research Council
Posted: Friday, June 2, 2006

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Ad Hoc Committee on Distributed Arrays of Small Instruments for Research and Monitoring in Solar-Terrestrial Physics: A Workshop, National Research Council

Full report

To explore the scientific rationale for arrays of small instruments recommended in the 2002 NRC decadal survey for solar and space physics,1 the infrastructure needed to support and utilize such arrays, and proposals for an implementation plan for their deployment, an ad hoc committee established under the Space Studies Board’s Committee on Solar and Space Physics organized the 1.5-day Workshop on Distributed Arrays of Small Instruments held in June 2004 at the National Academies’ Jonnson Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. This report summarizes the discussions at the workshop; it does not present findings or recommendations.

Solar-terrestrial science addresses a coupled system extending from the Sun and heliosphere to Earth’s outer magnetosphere and ionosphere to the lower layers of the atmosphere, which are connected via the thermosphere and lower ionosphere. Processes in each region can affect those in the other regions through coupling and feedback mechanisms. As the 2002 decadal survey and other related NRC reports have noted,2 understanding and monitoring the fundamental processes responsible for solar-terrestrial coupling are vital to being able to fully explain the influence of the Sun on the near-Earth environment. These studies emphasize that monitoring the spatial and temporal development of global current systems and flows; the energization and loss of energetic particles; and the transport of mass, energy, and momentum throughout the magnetosphere and coupled layers of Earth’s upper atmosphere is essential to achieving this scientific goal.

At the workshop, speakers asserted that deployment of distributed arrays of small instruments (DASI) would culminate decades of discipline-related local instrument development for the pursuit of aspects of solar-terrestrial science at the subsystem level. With the advent of the Internet and affordable high-speed computing, these local deployments can now become elements of a global instrument system. When different instrument techniques are then combined to observe all aspects of the physical system, the DASI concept will be realized.

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