National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Living With A Star

Community Input for LWS Science

Draft Topics for 2021 release Commenting is: closed

Call for Community Input to LWS Focused Science Topics

Release Date: Oct 5, 2020
Due Date: Oct 23, 2020

From: Anthea Coster (ajc at and Sabrina Savage (sabrina.savage at

The 2020 executive committee of the NASA Living with a Star (LWS) Program Analysis Group (LPAG) has completed the development of the next round of input for the LWS Focused Science Topics (FSTs) for ROSES 2021and beyond. We are asking the Heliophysics community to provide final input on these crafted FSTs by Oct 23, 2020. No new FST topics will be accepted, however the current FSTs may be expanded, enhanced, or modified as needed. Comments are welcome and will become part of the final record.

» Comment below on the new FSTs on or before Oct 23, 2020

We greatly look forward to your final input on these FSTs and to continuing on the path of innovation and scientific exploration in the LWS program.

LPAG Executive Committee Members: Sabrina Savage (Co-Chair), Anthea Coster (Co-Chair), Joe Borovsky, Richard Collins, Seebany Datta-Barua, Chuanfei Dong, Heather Elliott, Matina Gkioulidou, Fan Guo, Angelos Vourlidas, Brian Walsh, Shasha Zou

LPAG Ex Officio Members: Jeff Morrill, Lika Guhathakurta, Simon Plunkett, Shing Fung

Key Resources:
The current LWS SSA descriptions are provided here:


Please provide your comments on the overall FST development process and the current set of draft FSTs as a whole.

IDComment DateComment
15October 20, 2020Will there be a down select from these 22 FSTs? The FY20 ROSES had 4 FSTs, which is a reasonable number. These are supposed to be Focused Science Topics - there is nothing focussed in having 22 topics! Given the range of topics there would be very little that distinguishes LWS form the more general HSR competition...
14October 9, 2020While the topic look good in general, there seems to be almost nothing for inner magnetospheric (radiation belt, ring current, plasma waves, wave-particle interaction) research. Perhaps there could be a FST on inner magnetospheric modeling?
13October 6, 2020The selected topics significantly underestimate the importance of global electrodynamic processes, which for the upcoming higher solar flux period will have far more important space weather effects than lower atmospheric drivers.
12October 5, 2020There is no topic which includes the extremely important connection between particle precipitation from solar and magnetospheric sources and the middle to lower atmosphere. This pathway influences NOx and HOx as well as ozone content, and is poorly understood yet very relevant to human activity. It's unfortunate to see there is no place for this kind of science (the focus of international working groups such as HEPPA-SOLARIS) in the FSTs.
Draft Focused Science TopicsCommentsView
FST 1: Connecting Space Weather and Thermospheric CompositionComments 2
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October 27, 2020 Thermospheric composition varies differently during different solar and geomagnetic activity episodes. There sparse observations and a few models available for the accurate quantification of the same. But it has very much importance as far as the satellites and re-entry vehicles (like sample return missions) are concerned. But not many satellites (like CHAMP, TIMED) is planned by different space agencies also. Thus I suggest a coordinated effort between people and agencies to start a few more payloads in these altitude regions. It has been found that over dip equatorial regions the atomic oxygen concentrations are increasing during severe geomagnetic disturbances (24th cycle). The variation in oxygen concentration is different at different altitudes.
October 23, 2020This FST is extremely relevant to the goals of LWS, and much can be done to improve the physical environment of low Earth orbits to improve the knowledge and prediction of orbital positions, especially as space become increasingly crowded with the mega-constellations being launched. Although the geomagnetic storms of space weather events and polar/auroral inputs are emphasized, and rightfully so, the solar flare effects and radiation increases should also be included to fully address the entire solar variability and eruption influence on this environment. The increased photon input during solar flares immediately increase the densities, and a low-latitudes where most of the orbital assets are located, and can provide and significantly change the low-latitude pre-event density levels that are then later encountered by the global transport of the increased densities from the poles. This can be from the flares, but also solar rotations that have been shown to significantly change the densities and therefore satellite drag.
FST 2: Impact of Terrestrial Weather on the Ionosphere-ThermosphereComments 1
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October 7, 2020This FST outlines critical new science to be undertaken in the next decade and should be given the highest consideration. The goals and strategies provide a framework to make significant progress in an area where large uncertainties remain and scientific return is high. In order to understand the impact of the lower atmosphere on ionospheric variability, advances must be made whereby observed hotspots and recent theortical advances (namely, the generation of higher order waves) inform numerical model predictions.
FST 3: Multi-scale High-Latitude Forcing on Ionosphere-Thermosphere System Comments 1
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October 27, 2020The short period waves and tides of lower atmospheric in origin are having a high impact on the ionosphere-thermosphere of earth (neutral and electron density variations, spread F etc.,). This aspect is particularly significant during quiet time conditions. This impact of waves gets modified during intense geomagnetic storm periods. FST may look into this aspect and this is true for the high latitude-low latitude coupling via waves and tides.
FST 4: Understanding Ionospheric Conductivity and Its Variability
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FST 5: Beyond F10.7: Quantifying Solar EUV Flux and Its Impact on the Ionosphere-Thermosphere-Mesosphere SystemComments 2
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October 23, 2020The solar EUV irradiance is one of the three main drivers of Space Weather, along with SEPs and CMEs, so accurate quantification of its variability at all scales (decades due to solar cycle, days to months due to solar rotations, and seconds to hours due to solar flares) is critical to achieving the Living With a Star goals. As mentioned, it is past time to move past F10.7 as the sole driver to more accurately quantify this variability. Many new advances (SIP, FISM-2, GOES/EXIS, AI/ML techniques) are now available, but not often used, which make this FST timely to implement and improve the ITM response to this significant driver.
October 16, 2020NASA has invested significant resources in measuring solar irradiance, and this FST would leverage that investment with analysis and modeling.
FST 6: Solar Eclipses as a Naturally Occurring Ionosphere-Thermosphere Laboratory
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FST 7: Ion-Neutral Coupling in the Ionosphere-Thermosphere system
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FST 8: Pathways of Cold Plasma through the MagnetosphereComments 11
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October 24, 2020Improving our understanding of the cold plasma population is very critical not only for the cold population but also for the entire geospace. We have little understanding of where all the cold plasma population is distributed throughout the magnetosphere, and how the distribution in time, space and energy evolves with magnetic activities. We have no quantitative understanding of how much of the cold plasma in the near Earth environment originates from the ionosphere or solar wind. Furthermore, within the cold plasma of the ionospheric origin, we do not know whether it originates from the cusp, or auroral region via the ion outflow process, or directly mass loaded from sub-auroral ionosphere. Most interestingly, cold oxygen torus has been reported in the literature, but we have not yet definitive understanding of where the cold oxygen originates from, leading to form a torus of the oxygen near the light-ion plasmapause.
October 23, 2020This is a very important topic and should be one of the FSTs. The behavior of the cold plasma in the magnetosphere is not well understood and yet is of critical importance to understand the dynamics of the magnetosphere. In particular, there are a number of outstanding questions on the refilling of the plasmasphere: how does it vary during the refilling process, is it via one mechanism or more, dose it depend on geographic location of the magnetic foot points, what ionospheric states or precesses affect it? etc., The cold plasma constitutes the bulk of the mass of the magnetospheric plasma and it plays a critical role in wave-particle interactions.
October 22, 2020I strongly support this FST. The full role of cold plasma has been a critical, yet elusive piece of the puzzle when attempting to understand the formation and dynamical behavior of key regions in the magnetosphere. Recent observations and modeling suggest that the transport and energization of cold plasma may provide the best explanation of how substorms are triggered (at least under certain conditions), and how warm and hot plasma populations in the magnetosphere develop over time.
October 22, 2020I strongly support this Focused Science Topic because the cold plasma is very important for magnetospheric physics and in order to better study the ionsophere-magnetosphere coupling.
October 21, 2020The understanding of the complex feedback between ionospheric outflow and magnetospheric plasma on the coupling of the solar wind is an important and timely topic. Most of the time, the ionosphere has limited effect on the major magnetosphere-solar wind coupling through reconnection. However, during significantly disturbed times, the ionosphere may have a major effect. Thus, the importance of this topic grows with geomagnetic activity and understanding this interaction for more extreme events is particularly important.
October 21, 2020I think this topic is of foremost importance to understand magnetospheric dynamics from a global perspective. Cold plasma measurements are difficult from a technological perspective, but it has been shown that it often dominates the mass-density of the magnetosphere, and hence its importance.
October 21, 2020I strongly support this FST because the knowledge of cold plasma composition is essential to understand the role of different cold populations in regulating the near-Earth dynamics, especially the wave-particle interaction.
October 14, 2020I strongly endorse this FST because it enables characterization of the role of the least-understood plasma populations in the magnetosphere – cold ions and electrons. There are minimal accurate historical measurements of these populations because of the challenges associated with this measurement. Understanding the global magnetosphere as a system requires understanding of these cold plasma populations, because they impact everything from the solar-wind/magnetosphere boundary to the magnetosphere/ionosphere coupling region (and everything in between!).
October 14, 2020This Focused Science Topic is a very important one for solar-terrestrial physics. The role that the initially cold ionospheric plasma outflow plays in populating the energetic regions of the magnetosphere--plasma sheet, warm plasma cloak and ring current and in influencing their structure and dynamics is foundational for understanding magnetospheric dynamics and is currently not well understood. The relative strength of the ionospheric and solar wind sources of magnetospheric plasmas are also not well known. New measurements that are focused on the initially cold (few eV) ions and electrons in combination with waves and more energetic particles are crucially important. Recent data and models suggest that the ionospheric source can be the dominant source of magnetospheric plasmas during periods of southward IMF Bz, playing a significant role in the triggering of substorms and storms. This FST is a most important one in leading to future measurements and merged modeling.
October 14, 2020I strongly support this FST since the cold plasma is extremely important for magnetospheric physics but is understudied (in part because of the difficulty with its measurements). In my opinion, an important topic that should be added to the FST is the impact of the cold plasma and its structuring on waves and wave-particle interactions, including its implications for aurora structuring. This is critically important for magnetospheric dynamics and magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling but is not well understood.
October 13, 2020This is an important area of study that has not been targeted in many years. Van Allen probes only barely touches the required measurements to address this topic. Progress in the entire magnetosphere requires progress here.
FST 9: Connecting Auroral Phenomena with Magnetospheric Phenomena
Comment DateComment
FST 10: Coupling of the Solar Wind Plasma and Energy to the Geospace SystemComments 1
Comment DateComment
October 9, 2020This is an excellent FST that takes a system approach to understanding solarwind-magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling. One issue that can also be addressed is that many solar wind parameters are correlated and uncorrelated with one another. To better understand the solar wind-magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling one must find a way to isolate the effects of individual drivers.
FST 11: Synergistic View of the Global MagnetosphereComments 1
Comment DateComment
October 22, 2020This FST proposal is well-timed with the proliferation of disparate data measurements, models, and analytical techniques making possible fundamentally new types of system science that span the magnetosphere and its couplings with the solar wind and ionosphere. The challenge is to make everything work well together - the team approach of the LWS FST program would seem the way to go. The stated Science Goals may be bit broad for a 'focused' investigation; I suggest a revision or re-scoping of this FST that emphasizes the 'efficient extraction of system-level information and physics from imaging, multipoint measurements, and numerical models' as a technical challenge that will deliver new system-level insights.
FST 12: Understanding Space Weather Effects and Developing Mitigation Strategies for Human Deep Space Flight
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FST 13: Evolution of Coronal Mass Ejections in the Corona and Inner Heliosphere
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FST 14: Physical Processes Responsible for the Birth and Evolution of the Solar Wind
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FST 15: Understanding the Large-Scale Evolution of the Solar Wind throughout the Heliosphere through the Solar Cycle
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FST 16: Solar Flare Energetic Particles and Their Effects in Large Solar Energetic Particle Events
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FST 17: Understanding the Transport Processes of Solar Energetic Particles from Their Origins to the Entire Inner Heliosphere
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FST 18: Extreme Solar Events --- Probabilistic Forecasting and Physical Understanding
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FST 19: Towards a Quantitative Description of the Magnetic Origins of the Corona and Inner Heliosphere
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FST 20: Understand Energy Partition and Energy Release Processes in Eruptive Events
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FST 21: Atmospheric Evolution and Loss to Space in the Presence of a Star
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FST 22: Stellar Impact and Extreme Activity on Exoplanetary Atmospheric Loss and Habitability
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