Focus Areas for Ulysses
Plasmas and their embedded magnetic fields affect the formation, evolution and destiny of planets and planetary systems. The heliosphere shields the solar system from galactic cosmic radiation. Our habitable planet is shielded by its magnetic fi eld, protecting it from solar and cosmic particle radiation and from erosion of the atmosphere by the solar wind. Planets without a shielding magnetic field, such as Mars and Venus, are exposed to those processes and evolve differently. And on Earth, the magnetic field changes strength and configuration during its occasional polarity reversals, altering the shielding of the planet from external radiation sources.
Understand the causes and subsequent evolution of solar activity that affects Earth's space climate and environment. The climate and space environment of Earth are significantly determined by the impact of plasma, particle, and radiative outputs from the Sun. Therefore, it is essential to understand the Sun, determine how predictable solar activity truly is, and develop the capability to forecast solar activity and the evolution of disturbances as they propagate to Earth.