Press Release

Scientists to plan International Heliophysical Year

By SpaceRef Editor
April 14, 2004
Filed under , ,
Scientists to plan International Heliophysical Year

A workshop sponsored by NASA’s Sun Earth Connection
Program to begin planning U.S. participation in the International
Heliophysical Year (IHY) will be held here April 20-22, 2004 at the
National Science Foundation’s National Solar Observatory (NSO).

The IHY will commence on the fiftieth anniversary of the
International Geophysical Year (IGY, 1957-58) that produced an
unprecedented level of understanding of geospace and saw the start of
the Space Age. Like the IGY, the objective of the IHY is to discover
the physical mechanisms that link Earth and the heliosphere to solar
activities. Like IGY, the IHY will focus on global effects but the
IHY will expand to encompass the entire Sun-Earth system and the
heliosphere. Proposed IHY objectives are:

* Obtain a coordinated set of observations to study, at the largest
scale, the heliospheric events and their effect on life and the
climate of Earth.

* Document and report the observations and provide a forum for the
development of new scientific results utilizing these observations.

* Foster international cooperation in the study of heliophysical
phenomena now and in the future.

* Communicate the unique scientific results of the IHY to the
interested scientific community and to the general public.

“The IGY helped enormously in promoting research in geophysics and
space science,” said Nat Gopalswamy, a co-convener of the workshop at
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “In this workshop, we’ll identify
problems that need global cooperation, that are solvable in the near
future.” IHY participants will set up distributed collaborations that
utilize ground- and space-based assets to further science
achievements in solar physics, geophysics, space physics, and
heliospheric physics with a resounding emphasis on cross-disciplinary

“The Sun is the vital driver of space weather,” said K.S.
Balasubramaniam, local workshop chairman at the NSO, in Sunspot. “An
understanding of the solar influences on the heliosphere will help us
protect satellites and terrestrial assets from disastrous
consequences of severe space weather. This workshop will lay the
foundation for a seamless integration of the entire heliosphere, from
the solar surface to Earth and its climate, and across the solar

NSO will support IHY through the U.S. Air Force’s Improved Solar
Optical Observing Network prototype (ISOON, Sunspot, NM), the Global
Oscillation Network Group (GONG, six stations around the world) and
the Synoptic Optical Long-term Investigations of the Sun (SOLIS, Kitt
Peak, AZ). Each features advanced digital imaging systems and filters
to produce high-quality solar images and data and place them on the
web for quick access by the world solar community.

For the planning workshop, about 60 scientists from around the United
States will representing a broad range of scientific disciplines,
including geospace, magnetosphere, ionsophere, and climate, said
Barbara Thompson, a workshop co-convener from NASA’s Goddard Space
Flight Center. “In addition, we hope to understand heliospheric
interactions with all magnetospheres, not just Earth, so IHY will
encompass other planets as well.”

Key speakers will be George Siscoe of Boston University on
magnetospheres and ionospheres, Marvin Geller of the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology on Earth, atmosphere, and climate; Marcia
Neugebauer of the University of Arizona on the heliosphere, and
Robert Lin of the University of California at Berkeley on the Sun.
Workshop co-chairs are Nancy Crooker of Boston University and Daniel
Baker of the University of Colorado. Conveners are Gopalswamy,
Thompson, and Joseph M. Davila of NASA/Goddard.

“These four speakers will address over-arching scientific questions
that have the potential for being addressed by scientific
observations worldwide, even with the aid of Third World countries,
so it’s truly an international effort,” said Crooker.

Gopalswamy noted that about 60,000 scientists in 66 nations were
involved in the IGY. He anticipates a larger number will be involved
in the IHY.

“Only a cooperative international program like IHY can bring together
enough people to fully address these broad scientific questions” said
Joseph Davila one of the workshop co-conveners.

The NSO advances knowledge of the Sun, both as an astronomical object
and as the dominant external influence on Earth, by providing
forefront observational opportunities to the research community. NSO
operates cutting-edge facilities, develops advanced instrumentation
in-house and through partnerships, conducts solar research, and
supports educational and public outreach. The Association of
Universities for Research in Astronomy operates NSO under a
cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation, for the
benefit of the astronomical community.

Because of space limitations, participation is limited to invited
attendees. A press conference will be held at 1 p.m., Thursday, April
22, after the conference adjourns. For information about the workshop
at Sunspot, contact:

Dave Dooling

Education and Public Outreach Officer

National Solar Observatory

Sunspot, NM 88349


Jackie Diehl


Web links


Directions to Sunspot


SpaceRef staff editor.