The Space Weather Science and Observation Gap Analysis

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The Space Weather Science and Observation Gap Analysis report describes the results of a science and measurement gap analysis for the Space Weather Science Application Program (SWxSA) within NASA’s Heliophysics Division (HPD). NASA’s HPD commissioned the report in response to recommendations from the 2013 National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Decadal Survey for Solar and Space Physics and the actions delineated in the 2019 National Space Weather Strategy and Action Plan.

The analysis was performed by a committee of space weather experts from academia, the commercial sector, and the space weather operational and end-user community under a NASA task order to the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. The study explores how measurements from NASA observatories will advance forecasting, nowcasting, and hindcasting capabilities by focusing on two tasks:

  1. Assess the current state of NASA’s observational capabilities to address the science of space weather and to improve the accuracy of predictive space weather models, and
  2. Identify high-priority measurements critical to improving our ability to monitor and predict space weather that are either at-risk or currently unavailable.

The committee ranked the current observation gaps and their associated research gaps, taking into consideration both Earth-based space weather data users and NASA’s space exploration needs. The committee also compiled a list of lessons learned from the findings, which include:

  1. Most of the observational gaps can be addressed with current technology and capabilities,
  2. Coordinated and concurrent measurements are the only way to significantly increase the impact of NASA’s measurements to space weather monitoring and prediction capabilities,
  3. Some areas present opportunities for novel measurement approaches, which could be achieved by embracing the use of hosted payloads, small-satellite technology, and rideshares for populating future observatory networks around geospace.

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