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NASA Advisory Council Sun-Earth Connection Advisory Subcommittee Minutes 23-24 Jul 2001

Status Report From: NASA Advisory Council
Posted: Monday, July 23, 2001

Letter to SEC Director Dr. George Withbroe from Dr. David McComas, Chair of SECAS

Dear George,

The Sun-Earth Connection Advisory Subcommittee (SECAS) enjoyed reviewing the status of the Sun-Earth Connection (SEC) theme again with you. We thank all of the participants for their contributions. We are continually struck and gratified by the extremely high level of dedication and commitment shown by your staff and associated personnel, both at headquarters and from the field centers. The SEC Division, Office of Space Science, and indeed American taxpayers are fortunate to be served by such outstanding individuals.

The Sun-Earth Connection theme continues to be healthy as it aggressively pursues a broad-based range of research and flight programs aimed at understanding space physics phenomena from the interior of the Sun to beyond the outer reaches of the heliosphere. The Living with a Star (LWS) program has begun to grow nicely and continues to round out the SEC research area by providing an opportunity to extend our already outstanding basic research programs to a more complete and holistic understanding of the Sun-Earth connection system and its real-world implications for effects on life and society.

Because of the late rescheduling of the SScAC meeting over our original meeting dates, this was an abbreviated, two-day meeting. None-the-less, we heard about a substantial fraction of the SEC program. In keeping with our previous letter, this report will focus only on the top few issues that need special or urgent attention. We hope that this format of highlighting the most critical areas that come out of each meeting will spotlight their urgency and help you focus your limited resources on these most critical issues.

SEC Director's Retirement

The SECAS was sorry to have to receive your official notification that you will be retiring next January. We feel we speak for the entire SEC community in thanking you for your excellent contributions and service in leading our community over the past decade. Your leadership and vision will be sorely missed!

The Committee was understandably concerned about finding an outstanding new leader to take over the helm as SEC Director and about the potential for disruptions in the SEC program during the transition. We urge you and the rest of the Headquarters' personnel to expedite this process in order to maximize the extent of this search and minimize the disruption. SECAS members expressed a strong willingness to help with recruiting by encouraging colleagues to apply for this critical position.

Chairman's note: As of 20 August this job has not yet been officially posted on NASA's web site. Time is running very short it is urgent to begin the official process immediately.

Living With a Star (LWS)

SECAS thanks Glenn Mason and the Living With a Star (LWS)- Science Architecture Team (SAT) for their hard work and commitment to establishing a structure for LWS and for developing focal points critical to the success of LWS as a system. The organization and execution of LWS is a major departure from previous approaches to flight programs. The success of the program requires a system approach for which the LWS-SAT is establishing the framework. SECAS looks forward to receiving the written report on the architectural elements and key findings.

A unique feature of LWS is the fusion of several different disciplines, programs, and institutions to create a system for understanding the variable output of the sun and the Geospace response, which has societal consequences. SECAS concurs with the sense of the two recommendations of the SAT to establish a Data Systems Study Team and a Theory and Modeling Definition Study Team as outlined below. Both teams should be constituted as soon as possible and asked to produce a written report for the LWS project scientist and SECAS within 12 months. Furthermore we recommend that there be cross membership between the SAT and the Mission Definition Teams on the two study teams.

LWS Data Systems Study Team

A Data Systems Study Team should be charged to:

(1) Determine the extent and availability of data sets from NASA missions, non-NASA missions, international projects and ground-based instrumentation required to fulfill the LWS mission.
(2) Identify the mechanisms required to make the data sets useable by the LWS community.

LWS Theory & Modeling Study Team

A LWS Theory & Modeling Study Team should be charged to:

(1) Identify the elements needed for a coordinated, integrated, and comprehensive LWS theory and modeling program .
(2) Identify the data required as input for theory and modeling.
(3) Identify the outputs testable by LWS and LWS-partner missions and ground-based experiments.

ST-5

SECAS reiterates its very strong endorsement of ST-5 for the demonstration of mission enabling micro-satellite and constellation-specific technologies that are crucial to the SEC future program. We applaud the demonstration of 25 kg class spacecraft carrying a science validation instrument. However, we are concerned that cost growth in this project is endangering the utility of ST-5 in developing and demonstrating the constellation technologies. SECAS advises that it is critical to fly all three spacecraft in order to demonstrate the urgently needed constellation technologies. If cost savings are required in the implementation of ST-5, SECAS strongly recommends that they be taken in other areas that do not affect the constellation aspects of this mission.

Strategic planning

SECAS agreed that the SEC road mapping effort needs to begin soon if we are to complete the process in time for the next Code S strategic plan. Selection of the roadmap chair people should be completed as soon as possible and they should be included in our next SECAS meeting, to be held jointly with SScAC, December 3-7, 2001.

On behalf of the entire SECAS, we thank you and your staff again for an excellent meeting and for allowing us the opportunity to provide a community perspective and advice for your consideration.

Respectfully yours,

David J. McComas, Chairman
Sun-Earth Connections Advisory Subcommittee

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