National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Living With A Star

Community Input for LWS Science

2017 Draft Topics Commenting is: closed

20 October 2017

Dear Colleague

We are writing to enlist your help in finding well qualified candidates for the Executive Committee of the Living with a Star Program Analysis Group (LPAG), formerly the LWS TR&T Steering Committee. As with its predecessor, the LPAG performs a vital role by providing an opportunity for the Heliophysics Community to comment on the LWS program. This includes, but is not limited to, discussions of future Focused Science Topics (FST), examining progress in meeting science goals and objectives, as well as how well results from the program are transferred into societal benefits. A description of the LPAG can be found on the LWS web site (

We are currently seeking members from all areas of the Heliophysics community with a solid understanding of the scientific basis of Heliophysics system science. Highly qualified candidates from all career stages, including early career, will be considered. Membership in the LPAG will nominally be three years. This initial call for membership, however, will range from one to three years in order to establish a rotation whereby one third of the members will be replaced each year. Additional information can be found on the new LWS website at

You can become a candidate for the LPAG by replying to the email addresses below. Please include in your submission a brief summary of the contributions you would make to the committee and your qualifications for doing so, as well as a single page vitae. This submission must be limited to a two page PDF file. Nominations will only be accepted for scientists who reside at a U.S. Institution for the period of service. There is no restriction on citizenship. We will accept submissions until the close of business on 11/22/17. Please feel free to share this letter with anyone you think would be interested.

Thank you for your consideration and assistance.

Jeff Morrill
LWS Program Scientist

Janet Kozyra
LWS Science Lead

IDComment DateComment
9July 18, 2016I would like to the thank the SC and the NASA program for their efforts in soliciting these topics, and making the process more amenable to community input than in the past. Although past SCs (in which I have participated) did request community input for topics, this SC has been much more successful in engaging the community in this process. I believe some of the topics could have benefited from more committee-wide critical review. When I was on the SC, topics would undergo review and be modified based on being "too broad", or being "too narrow" (e.g. very few members of the community could respond, etc.). I believe there are several topics that are too broad, as I've noted in the comments. Some of the sub-topics lack sufficient justification, and could have used more scrutiny (why did you mention "this" but not "that", etc.). Nevertheless, this is an excellent effort and I look forward to the community moving forward with excellent proposals.
8July 17, 2016The solar wind is non-thermal and presents a wide variety of plasma conditions. Key to understanding these conditions is the ways in which the solar wind departs from a Maxwellian distribution. Two examples of this are its temperature anisotropy and ion drifts, which can play a major role in wave-particle interactions and the excitation of instabilities. Understanding these phenomena through modeling and in situ experimentation is fundamentally necessary to our ability to understand the solar wind, and in a broader context, effectively predict space weather.
7July 12, 2016I fully agree with the comments made on July 7th concerning the omission of data mining/machine learning/big data techniques from the LWS final topics. These techniques are gaining traction very quickly across a broad range of geophysical communities and for good reason! They hold incredible potential for insight discovery into physical processes that we are simply not aware of at present, and also for specification and prediction of a host of quantities that can be used for space weather applications or as inputs driving physics-based models. But in order to extract this value, the available generic machine learning tools need to be adapted and developed to the specific needs of the space physics community, which will only happen is sufficient resources are allocated to this endeavor.
6July 7, 2016Data mining techniques and tool development is extremely important for the Space Physics field and it is not represented in the final topics. It was actually mentioned many times and in many ways in the suggested topics by the community, but apparently it was not included in the draft of final suggested topics. With the new large datasets available, it is imperative that new methods/tools for data mining and visualization techniques are develop to help advance science understanding and for that to happen, support is needed. Also, nowadays forecasting has become a very important part of the research to operations transition and the efficiency of doing this accurately lays completely on the development of such data mining tools. It is time to take advantage of the computational capacity improvement and new sources available.
5July 7, 2016I hope the committee will reconsider the topic on "big data" and machine learning techniques and their applications to Heliophysics studies. I really do believe that with the growing number of high data volume models and large data sets from more and more observatories in the system, this topic should identify and produce new tools and techniques that have the potential to prove themselves highly valuable to our progression in the field. New data mining and machine learning techniques are already being rapidly developed in other fields to great benefit, and I hope that Heliophysics will be given direct support to learn more about those techniques and apply what we can to better understanding the science of our complex systems.
4June 21, 2016In response to the May 31 question above: The committee's job is to write up a report, which will be presented to the NAC Heliophysics Subcommittee, and via that subcommittee to NASA Headquarters. As currently planned, these 15 topics (finalized at our third meeting) will be in that report. How NASA Headquarters uses that report to develop a 2017 ROSES call for TR&T proposals is up to NASA Headquarters, and is independent of this committee. In prior years, only a subset of topics in the committee report have been used by NASA Headquarters to develop the ROSES call, and it is reasonable to expect the same for the 2017 call. - Mark Linton
3May 31, 2016Assuming that the final number of topics to be issued in the 2017 ROSES will be fewer than 13, will there be further consolidation of draft topics? Or will some of the draft topics be simply removed dropped?
Draft Topic TitleCommentsView

Round: 1

Mid-latitude and Equatorial Dynamics of the Ionosphere-Thermosphere SystemComments 1
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June 1, 2016Regarding the types of investigations #6, "the longitudinal difference in the magnetic field inclination and magnitude", the inclination effect is obvious and well known, but the declination effect on the longitudinal variations is less known. It makes much more sense to me to study the role of the longitudinal difference in the magnetic declination.
Origins, Acceleration and Evolution of the Solar WindComments 5
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June 6, 2016This topic is of great importance and relevance for the entire space-weather community. It is crucial and timely.
June 6, 2016This work is essential to the success of Solar Probe Plus and Solar Orbiter: without a concerted theoretical effort, the new observations will be relatively uninformative. It is also essential that the models reach the stage of making clear predictions.
June 6, 2016Very important topic given the upcoming launch of Solar Probe Plus.
June 1, 2016This topic is timely and important. I support it.
May 31, 2016This focused science topic is very appropriate for the LWS program, and I strongly support it.
Ion Circulation and Effects on the Magnetosphere and Magnetosphere - Ionosphere Coupling
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Toward a Systems Approach to Energetic Particle Acceleration and Transport on the Sun and in the HeliosphereComments 2
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June 7, 2016While it is relatively clear that CME-driven shocks play an important role in producing SEPs, the contribution from other mechanisms in flares (reconnection, turbulence, small-scale flare shocks) need to be addressed as we move toward a physical based prediction. In this context the proposed topic is important and timely.
June 6, 2016This is a very timely topic given the upcoming missions which will explore the inner heliosphere. An observational and modeling effort combining acceleration and transport processes in the solar atmosphere and inner heliosphere holds great potential to improve significantly our understanding of these processes and thus our space weather forecasting capabilities. I strongly support this topic proposal.
Coupling Between Different Plasma Populations by Means of WavesComments 1
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June 6, 2016This topic is timely given the impressive satellite coverage afforded by many current missions (RBSP, THEMIS, MMS, etc...) and I fully support it. It also has wide applicability across several SSAs.
Probabilistic Forecasting and Physical Understanding of Extreme EventsComments 1
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May 31, 2016I would suggest to modify the sentence "Additional effects of extreme events include disruptions of satellite navigation systems, mobile telephones, and a host of additional effects for Earth and satellite-based technologies." as the following "Additional effects of extreme events include disruptions of satellite navigation systems, mobile telephones, and a host of additional effects for Earth including ozone destruction and satellite-based technologies."
Understanding Physical Processes in the Magnetosphere--Ionosphere / Thermosphere / Mesosphere System During Extreme Events
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Understanding the Impact of Thermospheric Structure and Dynamics on Orbital DragComments 1
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June 9, 2016This topic is not only important in terms of its scientific value, but also of extremely important in terms of its practical implications.
Solar Magnetic Inputs to Coronal and Heliospheric ModelsComments 1
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June 2, 2016Similar to COSMO and SPP, Solar Orbiter will also provide measurements in the near future.
Understanding the Response of Magnetospheric Plasma Populations to Solar Wind Structures
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Heliospheric and Magnetospheric Energetic Precipitation to the Atmosphere and Its ConsequencesComments 3
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June 8, 2016This is a great topic which will help us to understand how energetic events are connected at different layers. A very important field for space weather implications, climate models and their effects on Earth. It is a very relevant topic for LWS and the Space Weather Action Plan.
June 6, 2016This is a timely topic that is underdeveloped within the research community. It is cross-disciplinary as it ties together several fields and is thus well-suited for LWS TRT. I fully support it.
May 31, 2016This is a great topic which should lead to ready to use results for space weather implications in atmospheric chemistry and climate models and is a very relevant topic for LWS and the the Space Weather Action Plan.
Understanding The Onset of Major Solar EruptionsComments 1
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June 2, 2016Two future LWS missions (SPP and Solar Orbiter) will provide important measurements toward this FST.
Understanding Ionosphere-Thermosphere (IT) responses to high-latitude processes and Magnetospheric energy input
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Round: 2

Enabling Geospace System Science Through Imaging and Distributed ArraysComments 6
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July 19, 2016The continuous observations by distributed arrays of ground-based geospace instruments and the recent advances in analysis techniques for these observations are very much under-utilized in Geospace System Science research. To enrich its context and enhance the science returns, this Focus Topic can also include the remote sensing of magnetospheric plasma mass density that can be inferred from ground-based magnetometer networks through field line resonance analysis. The investigation of plasmaspheric density does not need to be limited to the density of He+. It can also include the mass density that can contribute to the knowledge of O+ density which can be enhanced during storm times.
July 18, 2016This is not a focused science topic, in my opinion. It is instrument focused, which then leads to a number of diverse science questions covering a great deal of ground. The idea that the questions can be addressed with distributed arrays and imaging is fine. However, it is not sufficiently focused to be considered an FST. I would also suggest the science questions are somewhat oddly posed. For example: "What is the causal flow of events between the solar wind, ring current, plasmasphere, upper ionosphere, and sub-auroral electric fields?" Why are the upper ionosphere and SAEFs singled out in this energy flow picture? This one bullet could in fact be an FST, but it requires background and justification as to why it is posed in this way. Another example would be: "How do auroral dynamics and the global ring current evolution relate to ion energization in the magnetosphere?" Why are RC, aurora and ion energization the subjects here? What aspect of auroral dynamics? Why are ions the focus rather than electrons, the latter being more involved in aurora? Again, if this were an FST by itself, there would be explanatory text giving scientific background. The first question is: "To what extent can the motion of the magnetopause and cusp be used as indicators of magnetic flux transfer, and how does it affect the ring current, plasmasphere and aurora?" Does "it" refer to "motion"? If so, the question is not clear as to cause and effect between this motion and the RC and aurora, etc.
July 18, 2016This FST appropriately addresses needs of understanding the complex magnetospheric response. It correctly addresses a pressing need of the community and will move the field forward by taking data from many different sources to assimilate that data to better enable the next generation of space weather forecasting models.
July 15, 2016Understanding the interconnectedness of the solar/magnetospheric/ionospheric systems are critical to a complete predictive model of space weather. The efforts that are required for this work are extensive including modeling and deep knowledge informatics to provide feedback into modeling/prediction efforts. The current NASA fleet of spacecraft with the capabilities to observe plasma, energetic particles, and waves provides an enormous database that needs to be tapped to properly understand how each outer system drives the inner responses. While deep learning is still in its infancy, the success of current approaches provides a reasonable conclusion that these technique will enable a higher level of data mining and feedback into prediction systems that have been attempted in the past.
July 12, 2016On-site measurements have greatly improved our understanding of different physics regimes. Now it is time to gather these efforts to understand solar wind, magnetosphere, ionosphere, and thermosphere as a whole coupled system. The extensive dataset from the imaging and distributed arrays can be a good tool to understand causality of global space weather phenomena. Therefore, I recommend this topic.
June 29, 2016Taking advantage of the combination of imaging and global arrays of ground and satellite measurement is an area that could maximize scientific understand and maximize the use of current resources. However, such coordinated approaches have been far too limited in the past. This topic could stimulate such studies, leading to significant progress on understanding of the global system.
Understanding Global-scale Solar Processes and their Implications for the Solar Interior
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Mid-latitude and Equatorial Dynamics of the Ionosphere-Thermosphere SystemComments 2
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July 18, 2016This topic is quite broad, somewhat unfocused, and contains errors. For example, the assertion that "To date, much of what is known about mid-, low- and equatorial latitude electrodynamics is based on observations of a handful of incoherent scatter radars and from a limited longitudinal coverage..." ignores significant research over the past 10 years (or more) using distributed networks such as GPS ground arrays, which have broad longitudinal coverage. Sub-question 1 is very broad "What is the mid-, low-, and equatorial latitude structure, particularly during geomagnetically active periods", of which much has been written. So, it would be more useful to focus on certain aspects of this structure. There seems to be two emphases overall: longitudinal structure and energy transport. Perhaps one of these aspect could be emphasized more to serve as a focus.
July 6, 2016This is an understudied topic and deserves to receive more attention.
Origins, Acceleration and Evolution of the Solar WindComments 4
Comment DateComment
July 15, 2016This topic if of crucial importance especially with Solar Orbiter and Solar Probe Plus going into orbit. I do think that the understanding of this topic is essential for every space physicist.
July 15, 2016As described in several of the comments, this topic is critical in understanding what types of populations impact the Earth. Without clear modeling of the environment and a clear connection of the models to the L1 observations, it is almost impossible to understand statistical studies of CME's/CIR's/Shocks impact on the Earth's magnetosphere. The ACE spacecraft with the various working instruments is still a critical tool for driving these models. For instance, there are many observed events in which the ACE EPAM instrument observers heavy ion energetic populations that have positive a spectral index. Modeling coupled with Solar Plus observations must answer the question of When the acceleration occurs for these particles. Since these types of events are not the most common, then there must be specific circumstances that create these special populations. The impact of these populations on the Earth is another critical topic as the total energy budget imported into the magnetosphere is poorly understood.
July 15, 2016This topic is extremely important, especially since Solar Probe Plus and Solar Orbiter are about to launch. There is no way we can understand space weather without understanding the solar wind and how it evolves.
June 29, 2016This topic is crucial and timely. Crucial because reliable predictive models for Space Weather cannot be constructed without clear physical understanding of the detailed heating and acceleration mechanisms in the solar wind, along with the collisionless interactions which define the background medium carrying energetic events. Timely because the launches of Solar Probe Plus and Solar Orbiter will soon provide previously unavailable in-situ data on these processes. I encourage the LWS program to strongly support this FST and commit substantial resources to investigations of the kinetic microphysics of the solar wind, since this information is fundamentally necessary to the success of the LWS modeling effort. Theoretical and observational studies of the details of wave-particle interactions and turbulent dissipation in non-Maxwellian plasmas are of particular importance in solving the core questions underlying the properties of the solar wind and should be the focus of this effort.
Ion Circulation and Effects on the Magnetosphere and Magnetosphere - Ionosphere CouplingComments 9
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July 18, 2016There was an FST in 2006 dedicated to a similar topic. I would not consider that "current". I like the emphasis on transport across multiple regions, sort of like a "life cycle" approach to O+ ions. VAP and MMS are useful here, and could lead to new insights.
July 18, 2016This FST places much needed focus on the distribution of O+ throughout the magnetosphere. Investigations of this sort are needed since our knowledge of O+ often rely on decades old measurements; more recent missions can measure ring current O+ with a limited number of studies addressing this very topic. Studies addressing this will move the field forward since the ring current plays an important role in radiation belt dynamics, dayside and nightside reconnection, and ionospheric current systems.
July 15, 2016This is an important topic since the nature of how the ring current builds and decays while now well observed is poorly modeled. Studies are truly needed that bridge the gap between closed magnetospheric models and closed interplanetary models as each use the other for boundary conditions which in most storm time conditions are ill specified. An understanding of the mass loading and energy loading of the interplanetary energetic plasma population on the Earth's magnetosphere is critical to understanding how the various magnetospheric-ionospheric populations are created, accelerated, and transported through the system.
July 6, 2016Ionospheric origins of O+ magnetospheric plasma need more study. Spacecraft data sets such as DMSP have been underused.
July 5, 2016A topic that is both timely and of great importance for coupling within the system. Over the last few years it has become ever more evident that understanding the transport of heavy ions through the inner magnetosphere is critical for predicting subsequent effects of wave/particle interactions, acceleration and loss. We need to understand (and predict) energy-dependent transport and drifts of low energy ions to get a grip on effects at higher energies. An FST is sure to bring much needed progress in this area.
July 1, 2016This is an important and timely topic. The observations and modeling are now at a level where they can address this quantitatively. Some edits: This sentence, "O+ can also affect the global Solar Wind - Magnetosphere coupling by quenching dayside reconnection rates as well as global magnetospheric convection, and on the night side affecting location and recurrence of reconnection and associated instabilities, " should really say "O+ MAY", not "O+ can," as these are suggested effects from modeling, but have not been proven. Also, in addition to Van Allen Probes and MMS, Cluster provides the critical high latitude measurements. The major transport path from the cusp to the plasma sheet is at high latitudes.
June 29, 2016Both H+ and O+ ions from the ionosphere become the main component in many parts of the magnetosphere. It is apparent from recent MHD modeling of the magnetosphere that ionospheric plasma in the earth's magnetosphere affects many components of the magnetosphere-ionosphere system.
June 27, 2016This is an ideal topic for an LWS FST. It requires a combination of observation and modeling to make meaningful progress. As noted in the target description, outflow can fundamental alter the response of the magnetosphere-ionosphere system to solar wind driving and is a compelling scientific topic.
June 25, 2016Important topic! Recent papers have shown that accurate specification of the supply of O+ to the magnetosphere is needed to predict magnetosphere-ionosphere-thermosphere storm dynamics yet reliable specification is not yet available. A concerted team effort is needed for model advancement and validation.
Toward a Systems Approach to Energetic Particle Acceleration and Transport on the Sun and in the HeliosphereComments 9
Comment DateComment
July 19, 2016Solar Probe Plus will explore the solar wind as close as ~10 Rs to the Sun. This will give us a rare opportunity to examine particle acceleration and transport in the inner heliosphere. This FST is timely and crucial. Not only it is important for the study of energetic particles themselves, but also important to understand particle turbulence (wave) interaction.
July 18, 2016This is an important and timely topic. However, I dislike the language in the second paragraph under Goals and Measures of Success: "Observational investigations must show how they lead to data or data products that may be assimilated by models." This suggest that an investigation whose focus was on observational discrimination between two different models of acceleration, for example, would be inappropriate if it did not produce model inputs.
July 18, 2016Understanding the origin of solar energetic particles is one of the crucial topics in space weather, and also has broad implications in many contexts of space physics and astrophysics. This proposed FST is very timely for researchers to take full advantage of the unprecedentedly rich remote sensing and in situ observational data in the past several years when solar activity was at a high level. Recent advances in particle acceleration theories and modeling enable a broad systems approach to interpreting these observations and forming a comprehensive view of the production and transport of SEPs in the heliosphere. The expected results of this FST, esp. the concerted observation-theory-modeling framework, will be highly informative for the upcoming Solar Orbiter and Solar Probe Plus mission.
July 17, 2016Particle acceleration is clearly one of the more important subjects in heliophysics from both an astrophysics and a space weather perspective. This proposed research topic is very timely given all the observations of flares, CMEs, and SEPs that have been accumulated during this period of high solar activity that is now coming to an end as we approach solar minimum. The topic will encourage researchers to take a more comprehensive look at all the observations of individual solar eruptive events from different spacecraft and from ground-based observatories to better understand the different particle acceleration processes and to determine their relative importance. Only in this way can a complete picture be developed of these high energy events.
July 17, 2016Understanding the production of high-energy particles is one of the most outstanding problems in heliophysics. While the importance of the physical connection between particle acceleration by solar flares and by CME-driven shocks has long been recognized, these two types of mechanisms have been studied largely independently within the solar and heliospheric communities up to this point. This situation has been mainly due to lack of an appropriate platform to support cross-disciplinary, system-wide investigations. For example, NASA’s Heliophysics Supporting Research program divides solar and heliospheric proposals into separate categories. By uniting the solar and heliospheric communities, this LWS topic is thus unique and extremely valuable.
July 12, 2016Spatially- and temporally-extended high-energy gamma ray events were first observed by SMM (Vestrand & Forrest, 1993) and GRO (Kanbach et al., 1993), respectively. The origin of these extended emissions is a long-standing open question that deserves further scrutiny.
July 2, 2016Solar flares and CMEs are manifestations of interconnected global disturbances that in many cases drive the heliospheric space weather environment. Their relative importance and interacting roles in particle acceleration remain largely mysterious, and to make progress they must be studied in a system-wide approach as called for by this topic. New observations, particularly in the radio range with new instruments such as JVLA, LoFAR, EOVSA and others, when combined with the current suite of space-based instruments, make this a timely topic, but somewhat urgent as solar activity wanes. New theoretical ideas and increasingly sophisticated global modeling tools are being developed to take full advantage of the new observations, so significant progress in understanding the interplay between flares and CMEs in particle acceleration can be expected as a result of this TR&T topic.
June 30, 2016The relative importance and underlying physics of recently introduced particle acceleration mechanisms (reconnection-related process, turbulence) and the more traditional diffusive shock acceleration mechanism needs to be better understood. Can the different processes be synthesized and understood from a unified transport formulation that will enable application to environments as diverse as the corona, current sheet, and interplanetary medium, and how do they relate to gradual, impulsive, and local acceleration events? Taking a broader systems approach will allow these questions to be properly addressed.
June 30, 2016This is a unique and important topic. It is the only topic dealing with particle acceleration and transport in the Sun and inner heliosphere. Unraveling the intricate relation between acceleration in the corona, transport to heliosphere, re-acceleration in a CME shock, and transport to the Earth and back to the Sun is important for space weather predictions and can be helpful for understanding of acceleration and transport in other space and astrophysical environments. I strongly support this topic.
Coupling Between Different Plasma Populations by Means of WavesComments 6
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July 19, 2016This Focus Topic requires understanding of realistic wave fields, an area where our quantitative knowledge needs much improvement. To properly cover the scope of this Focused Topic, the types of investigations should include not only the empirical models for plasma population dynamics as stated but also the empirical models for ULF, ELF, and VLF waves.
July 18, 2016This FST is interesting given the current state of computational models and the large number of satellites throughout the magnetosphere that can measure various wave phenomena. However, this area research has received much attention with the launch of the Van Allen Probes mission and is also being investigated with the THEMIS and MMS missions where possible. While much has been learned from current observations and there is quite a lot more to be understood in wave-particle interactions, much of this work remains supported from current missions, and may not be the highest priority for its own LWS FST. Perhaps this topic is well suited to be combined with the O+ FST since this plasma population is responsible for the generation of EMIC and chorus waves? Or even the systems science FST since the wave-particle interactions can influence other magnetosphere populations?
July 17, 2016This topic is extremely important for advancing our understanding of how magnetospheric waves and plasma populations interact. In particular, we will not be able to achieve a quantitative physics-based understanding of the dynamics of ring current and radiation belt particles until wave properties, and the effects of the waves on the particles, are better understood. This is a timely topic because of the current large number and high quality of multipoint measurements including, but not limited to, MMS, THEMIS, and (especially) Van Allen Probes. It is also timely because theory and simulations of waves and wave-particle interactions are developed highly enough to make major new and revealing quantitative comparisons with measurements. These studies will strongly advance our understanding of the most important physical mechanisms by which different plasma populations are coupled by waves.
July 12, 2016This topic is very important in bettering our understanding of radiation belt dynamics and to help us improve forecasting and nowcasting.
July 8, 2016It is written that "ring current ions generate Electromagnetic Ion Cyclotron (EMIC) and chorus waves" Really?
June 29, 2016This has been an active topic of research for the past several years. I don't see that adding a Science topic on this will bring us further along.
Probabilistic Forecasting and Physical Understanding of Extreme EventsComments 3
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July 18, 2016There was a topic in 2007 on extreme events. Extreme events is currently a major focus of the National Space Weather Strategy and Action Plans, therefore the topic is timely. The emphasis on better consensus as to extreme events is good and should lead to progress.
July 18, 2016The success of this FST is hard to predict given the scarcity of Extreme Events encountering Earth, and paired with that the limited observations of these events. One further complication is the fact that space physics has an equally difficult time in predicting and understanding very small storms impacting the geospace environment. That said, I find the interdisciplinary aspect of this FST interesting since this would promote new collaborations with earth scientists by using biological systems on Earth as a passive observational tool. This is well in line with the LWS program fostering collaborations that normally would not exist.
June 29, 2016For progress to made of this topic, it is necessary to understand the specific types of disturbances that occur during large disturbances. Since extreme events are of course rare, this topic should include moderate to large storm events, which can give results that have the potential to be extrapolated to extreme events.
Understanding Physical Processes in the Magnetosphere--Ionosphere / Thermosphere / Mesosphere System During Extreme EventsComments 4
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July 18, 2016This topic reads similarly to "Probabilistic Forecasting and Physical Understanding of Extreme Events", but has more focus on the MIT system. There was a related topic in 2007. It could use an update. The topic is timely due to the national interest in the National Space Weather Strategy and Action plans.
July 18, 2016Solar wind - magnetosphere interaction is mentioned, but I think it is also important to take into account the role of the magnetosheath in this interaction, it is after all the magnetosheath that is in direct contact with the magnetopause. In recent years it has e.g. been realised that the (quasi-parallel) bow shock can modify the solar wind and create smaller scale structures (called 'jets' or 'plasmoids').
July 18, 2016While an interesting topic indeed, the success of this FST is difficult to predict since observations of superstorm events have been rare paired with limited observations of such events. Furthermore, predicting and understanding the response of Earth's magnetosphere to far more common small storms has proven to be just as difficult.
June 27, 2016This is an important, timely, and relevant FST. As indicated in the title, a critical aspect that needs emphasis is the atmospheric response to extreme events.
Understanding the Impact of Thermospheric Structure and Dynamics on Orbital DragComments 7
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August 2, 2016This topic represents a compelling direction for LWS TR&T that has not been pursued by the program before. Variations in atmospheric drag are a major societal consequence of Sun-Earth system coupling, as described in section 3.3.3 of the TR&T Science Definition Team Report. The topic is timely, in that the U.S. will soon be tracking smaller debris objects (down to 1 cm) that are more susceptible to atmospheric drag than the current >10 cm catalog; a robust understanding of the upper atmospheric response to solar and lower atmospheric forcing will be crucial for exploiting this new tracking data to predict collisions and protect space assets.

Although satellite drag has scientific elements similar to those of radiowave propagation (which has motivated many past TR&T ionosphere-thermosphere topics), the environmental properties needed for satellite drag prediction are quite distinct from those of other Sun-Earth system applications. For example, mass density is the primary state variable relevant to satellite drag, but is of little direct relevance to radiowave propagation. Furthermore, the effect of drag on an orbit is cumulative, so that large-scale variations are more relevant (although small-scale variations contribute to orbit prediction uncertainty), whereas small-scale variations are often more relevant to radiowave propagation.

Lower atmospheric forcing should be mentioned in the types of investigations and the solicited science questions, since its contribution to mass density variability has so far received little attention. A science question might be: "How do meteorological variations and climatological trends in the lower and middle atmosphere contribute to large-scale variability and changes in thermospheric mass density?"

A few suggestions on the current science questions:
- The 2nd ,3rd , 5th, and 7th questions could be combined into two questions, organized into ultimate and proximate sources of mass density structure: "What are the physical processes governing the response of temperature, composition, and winds to solar and lower atmospheric influences" and "How do temperature, composition, and winds lead to mass density structure?"

- The 4th question could perhaps be better motivated scientifically: "How is thermospheric energy balance regulated by cooling processes, and how does this regulation vary with the 11-year solar cycle?"

- The 6th question on TIDs and TADs could be broadened to include the entire spectrum of density fluctuations, which is relevant to the uncertainty of orbit determination and prediction: "What are the spatial and temporal spectral characteristics of mass density fluctuations, including fluctuations associated with TADs."
July 18, 2016This topic is rather more broad than I expect for an FST. It essentially encompasses all of SSA-2. It covers science, data assimilation, modeling, specification and forecasting. I would expect an FST to focus on specific aspects of drag, and focus on key unknowns, and address those. Otherwise, it is difficult to form an FST team that will make noticeable progress on a particular aspect of the science. With such a broad mandate, it is unlikely that this FST will achieve specific advances that can be built upon.
July 17, 2016While several topics state they address SSA-2: Physics-based Satellite Drag forecast capability, this FST is directly focused on understanding what physical processes are a concern for satellite drag prediction. With the upcoming GOLD and ICON missions, this complementary FST would provide the necessary ground work to expand the impact of those missions to address societal concerns related to satellite drag. This FST also embraces the chain of solar-to-terrestrial cause and effect that leads to changes in the satellite drag environment - from solar flares, CMEs and CIRs, and solar EUV/UV fluxes. The mass density response is driven by many internal and external processes making this a rich topic of study. This topic is also an opportunity for other FST topics to contribute such that the whole LWS FST program is better than just the sum of its parts.
July 1, 2016Agree with the earlier comments. This topic covers both science and application that fits the LWS program well. The application (accurate drag estimation) has a big impact on LEO satellite operation and collision avoidance due to increased populations in the LEO altitudes (satellite and debris).
June 30, 2016The listed science questions are all important and cover a huge amount of ground, and collectively do not constitute a focused science topic. Perhaps one of the listed science questions could be a focused science topic.
June 29, 2016This is an important topic with direct application to critical infrastructure (i.e., spacecraft and orbital debris in LEO). It is not clear why the 'ultimate goal' is simply to identify shortcomings in our ability to model orbital drag. To have an impact at all, it is necessary to use that information to address those shortcomings. This will necessarily mean model development, however, funding for that is explicitly excluded from this FST. The loop needs to be closed to provide a societal benefit.
June 29, 2016Scientifically, this is a very limited topic. Understanding thermospheric structure and dynamics is important as a scientific topic, and it is important to satellite drag. However, LWS should not have a focus that is so directly on satellite drag.
Solar Magnetic Inputs to Coronal and Heliospheric ModelsComments 4
Comment DateComment
July 18, 2016This is a very important topic; as one previous comment mentioned, magnetograms are a major data source for most of our coronal/heliospheric models. It is particularly difficult, at present, to find quantitative estimates of the reliability of these measurements, and this absence inhibits statistical approaches to predictive models of the corona and heliosphere.
July 14, 2016Critical topic to help the heliospheric & space weather community move towards time dependent modeling required to better understand the observed dynamical nature of the solar wind. With improved helioseismic far-side detections currently available, and the near-future solar orbiter magnetograph non-L1 observations, there is a great need to compare and validate current global magnetic map construction methods. This topic would help improve the key data input to (nearly) all coronal and heliospheric models.
July 14, 2016Magnetographs are sophisticated instruments as they need to perform imaging, spectroscopy, and polarimetry; i.e., all of the techniques used in standard astronomy. In the past, inter-calibration has been made by comparing data from various magnetographs with a focus on the different instrumental properties. However, the existing state-of-the-art simulations of the solar surface offer now new venues to inter-calibrate magnetographs among themselves and generate a deeper understanding of their differences. Such a calibration must necessarily include an end-to-end modelling of how the measurement process takes place, and the existing MHD simulations allow now for exploring this approach for the first time.
July 5, 2016This topic will provide the most important input of the photospheric field required for us to make any real progress in our understanding of coronal structure, the solar wind, and CME propagation. This topic can only be performed by a team. It is therefore ideally suited for an FST.
Understanding the Response of Magnetospheric Plasma Populations to Solar Wind StructuresComments 5
Comment DateComment
July 19, 2016We have come quite a way in understanding the response of low-to-high energy plasma populations during the passage of geomagnetic storms, generally speaking. However, the ability to accurately forecast the response of these populations on a day-to-day basis requires significant further investigation of the solar wind structures, how they propagate through the heliosphere, and how they impact the Earth's magnetosphere. As mentioned, this topic would allow investigations of the structures themselves, their interaction with the magnetosheath/magnetopause, how those interactions will drive magnetospheric waves, and change the Earth's global magnetic field. Finally, one would be able to determine through physical modeling or data-driven models, how the plasma population(s) will respond to the drivers. Many aspects of our modeling rely on simple parameterizations (i.e. Kp/AE) and do not take into account the complexities of different solar wind drivers. The simplified approach has been applied to many radiation belt models and high-latitude precipitation models. This topic is well suited to make significant advances in our understanding of low-to-high energy particle dynamics, and hence will lead to next-generation modeling and forecasting models - important for effective mitigation of geomagnetic storms.
July 18, 2016This FST covers a very broad range of heliophysics topics. The coupling across physical scales and plasma regimes will require a strong coordinated community effort which is well suited to the TR&T model.
July 18, 2016This topic should highlight more the role of dayside transient structures that are produced by kinetic processes right at the bow shock and foreshock, and which do not exist in the pristine solar wind. Recent statistical studies have shown that the magnetopause impact rates of these transients range from a few per day to several per hour, making them much more frequent than the interplanetary structures stated in the topic description.

Some dayside structures, like magnetosheath high-speed jets and mirror mode waves, are mostly self-generated during entirely steady solar wind conditions. Others, like Hot Flow Anomalies and Foreshock Bubbles, are created by interaction of solar wind discontinuities with the back-streaming foreshock ions. These transient structures can be geoeffective in many ways: They may trigger and modulate reconnection. They can cause (localized) magnetopause motion and deformations. Consequently, they may excite and drive various magnetospheric waves. Combined, these can lead to variations in radiation belt populations (e.g., dropouts).

Because these transient structures are created at or near the bow shock, a solar wind monitor will not give accurate warning of their impacts. Furthermore, because these transients are driven by kinetic processes, they cannot be simulated with global MHD models. First, we need coordinated analysis of observations from the H/GSO fleet and the new simulation models (multi-fluid, hybrid-PIC/Vlasov, coupled MHD-PIC) that can address kinetic physics in a global setup. Ultimately, we need to find viable means to integrate these transients and their effects into magnetospheric/ionospheric/atmospheric models to improve current space weather prediction capabilities.
July 18, 2016This FST is timely and relevant to the SSAs addressed. It is also very broad in its approach to understand the effects of a wide variety of space weather phenomena. Finally, as it invites many different types of investigations, chiefly machine learning, such and FST could be combined with the systems science FST since the approaches described here are complementary to each other and not mutually exclusive.
July 17, 2016This timely topic should mention substructures such as CME sheath regions and ejecta that have distinct plasma and magnetic field characteristics.
Heliospheric and Magnetospheric Energetic Precipitation to the Atmosphere and Its ConsequencesComments 5
Comment DateComment
July 18, 2016I feel this topic is too broad. The timeliness aspect is related to observations from VAP and ERG, as well as unspecified Cubesats and Smallsats. However, existing measurements from DMSP and NOAA satellites are not mentioned. Although VAP will certainly advance knowledge of this topic, it is not designed to measure precipitation so the connection of VAP to this topic is not clear. VAP is certainly not sufficient to address this question. I would have preferred an FST that identifies a specific aspect of the spectrum or its cause, and focusing on solving that. This topic wants to close all aspects of the precipitating spectra (long and short term variations, all energy ranges, etc.), which may be unrealistic.
July 12, 2016This is an important subject for the space weather model improvement. Auroral precipitation is one of the major energy input that drives ionosphere – thermosphere system. The IT modeling society depend on empirical or simple analytical models of auroral precipitation, thus missing the spatiotemporal aurora patterns and their impact on the IT system. This topic will encourage our science community to develop more realistic aurora models and validate the models with extensive data set. Therefore, I highly recommend this topic.
July 5, 2016I agree with other comments that the modeling of the EPP effects on the atmosphere should be a core component of this topic. The Description does already say: This topic aims to directly study the precipitating component of the radiation environment, and employ modeling methods to determine the effects on the atmosphere directly. But the emphasis could be made more clear. And the Types of Investigations should explicitly include: Inclusion of updated EPP energy spectra and variations into the atmospheric coupling models (i.e. WACCM) to assess the direct effects of the precipitation on Earth's atmospheric chemistry.
June 29, 2016This topic addresses one of the key uncertainties in assessing the importance of EPP as part of the Sun Earth connection. Without better quantification of the particle fluxes (energy spectra, temporal variability) the forcing used to study this connection in atmospheric models is poorly constrained. However, the topic does not call out as a specific goal the assessment of these fluxes within atmospheric models, so it does not seem to address the 'consequences' part of the topic title.
June 27, 2016This topic aims to fill a critical gap in our understanding of incoming EPP and how it varies in space and time. In addition to the goals listed, investigations are needed to quantify the sensitivity of the atmospheric response to the precipitation.
Understanding The Onset of Major Solar EruptionsComments 1
Comment DateComment
July 5, 2016This FST should deliver on the best probabilistic forecasting of solar events. I strongly support the inclusion of this topic.
Understanding Ionosphere-Thermosphere (IT) responses to high-latitude processes and Magnetospheric energy inputComments 4
Comment DateComment
July 12, 2016Understanding the high-latitude/magnetosphere forcing and their impact on IT system is quite important. However, the title and description put more focus on the IT system themselves and underestimate the coupling characteristics of magnetosphere – ionosphere – thermosphere (MIT) system. I recommend a LWS committee to emphasize the MIT coupling dynamics for this topic.
July 1, 2016How about add the feedback effect of the ionosphere and thermosphere to the M-I-T coupling?
June 30, 2016Everything here is extremely important and well-stated, but covers a huge amount of ground. It is much to broad to be a focused science topic, IMHI
June 29, 2016This topic is important, but should be modified to reflect that the ionosphere-thermosphere system does not simply respond to magnetic energy input. Instead, it is part of a coupled magnetosphere-ionosphere-thermosphere system, all parts working together to determine thermospheric and ionospheric variations.