[STSP] Announcement of the National Committee for Space Science (NCSS) Decadal Plan
ncss at physics.usyd.edu.au
Fri Sep 30 17:08:14 EST 2005
(Please forward this to interested people.)
The National Committee for Space Science (NCSS) announces
the development of the first Australian Decadal Plan for
Space Science and invites interested people to participate
in the development of the Decadal Plan. The Plan is for
the period 2006 - 2015.
NCSS is the Committee of the Australian Academy of Science
directed to foster the area of space science in Australia
(meaning here all aspects of solar system science beyond the
troposphere), to serve as an effective link between Australian
scientists and overseas scientists in the same field, and to
advise the Academy's Council on relevant matters. NCSS is of
the opinion that it is in the best interests of Australia's
space science community, associated industries, and Government
to develop a first Australian Decadal Plan for Space Science.
Attached are four documents: (1) a draft Process and Schedule
for developing the Decadal Plan, process_NCSS_30sept.doc,
(2) a draft purview of the Plan, purview_NCSS_30sept.txt,
(3) a draft Structure for the Plan, structure_NCSS_30sept.doc,
and (4) a Strawman for the Plan, strawman_NCSS_30sept.txt .
They are intended to excite interest in the Decadal Plan,
to stimulate constructive written contributions on all aspects
of the Plan (including scientific goals, projects and facilities,
industrial capabilities and projects, Government needs, and
links between Science, Industry, and Government), and to recruit
volunteers to develop and promote the Plan.
Based on the draft Process/Schedule, we are now in the
"brainstorming" period for the Plan. NCSS therefore requests
written comments on all aspects of the proposed Decadal Plan
for Space Science and invites interested people to volunteer
their time and relevant expertise to develop the Plan. These
should be sent before the deadline of
28 October 2005
to Dr Iver Cairns, Chair, National Committee for Space Science,
School of Physics, University of Sydney, NSW 2006,
ncss at physics.usyd.edu.au (email) or 02-9351-7726 (fax).
NCSS looks forward to hearing from you. Yours sincerely,
on behalf of NCSS,
Iver Cairns, Chair, National Committee for Space Science
(Prof. Charlie Barton, Australian National University,
A./Prof. Iver Cairns, University of Sydney,
Dr David Cole, IPS Radio and Space Services,
Prof. Peter Dyson, La Trobe University,
Prof. Brian Fraser, University of Newcastle,
Dr Alex Held, CSIRO Office of Space Science and Applications,
Prof. Andrew Parfitt, University of South Australia,
Prof. Malcolm Walter, Macquarie University
Prof. Robert Vincent, University of Adelaide).
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Desc: Process/Schedule for NCSS Decadal Plan as of 30 September
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Purview of the 2006-2015 Decadal Plan for Space Science
This document addresses the science foci and overlap of the
Decadal Plan for Space Science, prepared by the National
Committee for Space Science (NCSS), and the Decadal Review
of Astronomy, prepared by the National Committee for
Astronomy (NCA) as well as demographics. These suggestions
of NCSS have been agreed to broadly by NCA.
NCSS wishes its Decadal Plan to focus on science associated with
solar system phenomena and objects, with the NCA Decadal Review
focusing on science associated with extra-solar system phenomena
and objects. This allows each NC to focus on its area of expertise,
minimizes arguments about boundaries, avoids each NC claiming the
entirety of the other's interests, and should allow efficient
referencing and support of the other NC's plans in each NC's
There clearly is overlap. Primary specific examples are the Sun as
"our Sun" (NCSS) versus "a star" (NCA), the heliosphere and local
interstellar medium (NCSS) versus stellar heliospheres and the
distant interstellar medium (NCA), solar system planets (NCSS)
versus exoplanets (NCA), space plasma physics (NCSS) versus plasma
astrophysics (NCA - mostly for extremely relativistic plasmas), the
ionospheres & atmospheres of Earth and solar system planets (NCSS)
versus consequences of Earth's ionosphere for "astrophysical"
observations (NCA), and astrobiology (where NCSS has specific
expertise). Appropriate focusing of the NC documents must be
implemented, as already agreed. For instance, solar science,
solar-terrestrial physics (space weather and the international
Sun-Earth Connections, CAWSES, and ILWS programs), magnetospheric
physics, ionospheric/atmospheric science, space enabling technology
(e.g.,rockets and spacecraft-plasma interactions), and astrobiology
will be major foci of the NCSS Decadal Plan. Primacy in these overlap
areas and all solar system science has been given to NCSS by NCA.
NCSS is of the opinion that the "astronomy" demographics in the NCA
Review should not include space scientists but only astronomers, as
defined above. The NCA and NCSS demographics are unlikely to be
backwardly compatible since NCA relies upon a contact at each
institution to complete the demographics and there is likely to be
little if any memory or continuity from one Review to the next.
Similarly it will be difficult for NCSS to obtain accurate
demographics for past years except perhaps by using simpler
indicators like the number of space science attendees or papers
at previous Australian Institute of Physics Congresses or STSP
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Desc: Structure for NCSS Decadal Plan as of 30 September
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Strawman for Australian Decadal Plan for Space Science (30 Sept. 2005)
This is a third draft by IHC. It is mostly intended to excite
constructive comments, questions, and modifications by the wider
space science community. One question to be debated is whether the
Decadal Plan should be general (including, say, space physics,
geophysical/planetary remote sensing, and astrobiology) or more
restricted. IHC feels that it should be more general and inclusive.
Another is how to best combine and address the interests and needs
of Science, Industry, and Government.
1. Basic Structure
Themes (last for multiple decades) ->
Projects, Needs, and Facilities that last for several years to a decade
2. Constituencies that need to be considered:
Science, Industry, Government.
3. Basic Purposes:
(1) PR so that the Government, politicians, and the public generally
considers space science to be a National Priority with science
vital to Australia and the international community that is worthy
of enhanced financial, infrastructure, and political support.
(2) Organization and unification of the community so that it knows
what it's primary goals are and agrees to them and how to achieve
(3) Obtaining further support (financial, political, and technical)
for the multiple constituencies that make up and are interested in space
Principles for action/participation in particular research areas: choose
i) in which we are known internationally to have extensive
expertise and to be competitive
ii) in which local Australian information/knowledge is a national
iii) where we can leverage Australia's limited funds so that
participation adds unique value and benefits to Australia and,
ideally, the international community
iv) in which we can share, buy into, co-own, or participate in
international projects when this is the most cost- and
4. Definition: space science includes all of our solar system beyond
Could claim all astrophysics as well, as for NASA's Space Enterprise,
but we have left that for the National Committee for Astronomy.
Include astrobiology and remote sensing.
5. Draft Themes/Global Science Questions
i) Understand the Sun and its connections to Earth, including space
weather, the atmosphere, and effects on modern human society.
ii) Understand the physics, chemistry, geology, and biology of natural
space and astrophysical plasmas. (Physics subthemes might
include particle acceleration, radiation processes, and magnetic
reconnection, while chemistry/geology might include planet formation,
and biology links to astrobiology.)
iii) Assess accurately and remotely from orbit the environmental and
geological conditions in Australia, Antarctica and their environs.
iv) Determine the conditions for life to evolve and whether they met
elsewhere in our solar system and beyond.
These are directly relevant to three of the current National Research
Priorities (e.g., An Environmentally Sustainable Australia,
Frontier Technologies for Building and Developing Australian
Industries, and Safeguarding Australia) but are more general. This is
important since the National Research Priorities are likely to
evolve on a decadal time scale and the themes must be sufficiently
"big picture" to remain relevant. They must also be achievable on
multi-decadal time scales.
6. Science Facilities/Projects
These will address specific scientific goals that link into the
themes and are expected to be achievable during the decade. They are
organised these into Flagship projects and other projects with
smaller scope and expense.
Examples of science goals include:
a) Understand the processes that cause fast magnetic reconnection to
occur and result in particle acceleration, with applications to solar
and magnetospheric plasmas.
b) Observe and model the drivers of terrestrial space weather from
the Sun to the ionosphere and troposphere.
c) Observe and model spatiotemporal variations in energy flow from the
magnetosphere to the lower atmosphere, including the driving and
propagation of ionospheric waves and changes in chemistry and other
properties of the ionosphere and neutral atmosphere.
6.1 Australian Facilities and Projects
* i) Flagship - OzSat: TEC/GPS, radio communications, magnetometer,
radiation belt & cosmic ray particles, solar radio bursts below 70 MHz,
cameras and spectrometers for Earth remote sensing
- Requires a new angle that is appealing & innovative on a national and
international stage - not just extending FedSat
- new studies of localized ionospheric and atmospheric irregularities
coupled to space weather events
- detailed probing of geological magnetic irregularities and space
- radiation belt & cosmic ray observations to complement ground- and
aircraft-based studies and space weather events
- solar radio bursts below 70 MHz and the ionospheric cutoff, for
comparison with MWA, SKA, and other ground-based sites.
- remote sensing of enviromental and geological features
(sprites/thunderstorms?, magnetic perturbations due to ore bodies?)
- testing of new experiments and technologies before larger-scale
international space missions (e.g., thrusters, news sensors ...)
- signficant industry benefits and high-tech exports
* ii) Flagship - Virtual Center for Space Science, focusing on
theory and modeling of space science
- Builds on existing expertise in space physics, plasma astrophysics
- Access and management of Australian datasets, linkage to eGY and
other international data exchange schemes and virtual observatories
- Node at U. Sydney on theory/modelling of plasma processes and
solar/interplanetary physics - connection to astrophysics
- Node at Newcastle on magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling
- Node at Adelaide on supercomputing and ionosphere-atmosphere
coupling - DSTO connection
- Node at LaTrobe on radar physics and ionospheric modelling
- Node at Macquarie on Astrobiology
- Vital to integrate new results and to build/bring together the
scientific community (plus Industry & Government).
- Future Center of Excellence bid?
* iii) Flagship - Octant: Radar, GPS TEC & scintillations,
magnetometer, digisonde, solar radio, and radio communication
coverage of Australia's octant of the world. Stretches from the
South Pole to the Equator and including Australia, New Zealand,
Papua New Guinea, and perhaps Indonesia.
- space weather and associated magnetospheric, ionospheric, atmospheric
- solar and interplanetary physics
- easy connection to US, Japanese and other networks for global coverage
- provide vital ionospheric information for astrophyical telescopes (MWA,
- major justification for having SKA in Australia.
- provide vital ionospheric and atmospheric info (and cover) for
- national security connections: communications, best knowledge of
conditions in the Octant, high-tech capability
- natural connection to FedSat, GPS and international space missions.
- Links to UN and International Geo/Helio/physical Year programs for
small instrument programs?
- major industry benefits and high-tech products for export.
iv) Digitisation and autonomous operation of TIGER and other SuperDarn
radars - "Virtual Radars"
- major improvements in efficiency & effectiveness of operations on
going from analog to digital
- permit remote/virtual & autonomous operation
- permit multiple arrays to be placed cost-effectively in the Octant
- major industry benefits and high-tech products for export (cf. ATRAD,
6.2 Collaboration on International Projects
i) NASA's two STEREO spacecraft - official Co-Investigator on the radio
and plasma waves experiment SWAVES:
- complements Mileura Widefield Array (MWA) and Culgoora data streams and
- space weather: prediction of events from solar radio data
- ideal vehicle for extending theoretical expertise in space plasma
physics and solar/interplanetary physics
- potential links to OzSat and SKA
ii) I*Y 2007 (various International Years, such as Int. Heliophysical
Year, Int. Geophysical Year, ...)
- as ~ 1/8 of the globe's surface, Australia should be a major participant.
iii) Mileura Widefield Array (MWA) Extension and Square Kilometer Array (SKA)
- MWA will be a major solar instrument and probe of the ionosphere
- SKA will be a multi-billion dollar international instrument (the "next big
thing" in radio astronomy) that could be based in Australia, with major
financial and scientific implications
- successful use of SKA will demand good knowledge of the ionosphere
iv) Future international space missions like Magnetospheric Multi-Scale (MMS -
NASA) and RAMA/Interstellar Probe [ESA]
- hardware and scientific team members?
7. Industry and Government Projects
This Draft only considers Scientific Facilities/Projects in any real detail.
Some possible industry and Government projects include the following:
* i) Develop technical capability to design, build, and launch space
technology and/or payloads: [Industry & Government]
- develop low-cost launch capability for sounding rockets and near and
- test plasma thruster and rocket designs
- test new sensors and experiments before larger-scale international
- develop spacecraft design and technology capabilities
- in-situ testing for atmospheric and ionospheric phenomena observed by
Octant, especially at near-equator and mid- latitudes.
- links to COSSA, Australian Space Research Institute, National Space
Society of Australia & associated satellite programs, plus to existing
industry like Electro Optic Systems, Auspace etc.
Government agencies and departments with interests in space science include
Defence (e.g., DSTO, communications, radars, remote sensing), DITR [Department
of Industry, Tourism and Resources] (e.g., IPS Radio and Space Services,
space weather, communications, industry), Education (e.g., DEST, ARC etc.,
including developing scientifically and technologically literate workers
for industry, academia etc.)
* ii) Development of an effective Public Outreach program and Speakers Bureau
for space science. [Government]
- Public is generally unaware of Australian expertise in space science.
- Effective speakers on space science would be a valuable resource for the
nation, as well as relevant constituencies like scientists, industry,
8. Final Comments
This draft make minimal comments on industry or Government, focusing
mostly on scientific issues and the scientific community, except for the
associated flow-ons to industry and Government. This should not be interpreted
as the longterm intention - instead it is a symptom of the relatively small
amount of cross-linking presently between Science, Industry, and Government,
something that developing a Decadal Plan will start to rectify. There
are also no comments on demographics and research productivity, despite
these areas providing important arguments for considering Space Science to
be a very productive area for investment and development.
______________________________________________ Iver Cairns.
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