Heliophysics Strategic Mission Programs

In order to help the science community prepare for the decadal survey’s discussion of NASA’s spaceflight programs, NASA is engaging the community in pre-decadal activities for both the Solar Terrestrial Probes and the Living With a Star programs.

Solar Terrestrial Probes Mission Concept Studies

NASA intends to support a limited number of mission concept studies for development ahead of the next decadal survey. These mission concepts must address focused science objectives that are responsive to the Solar Terrestrial Probes goals and objectives. These studies are anticipated to last ~6 months, and will result in a science white paper and a mission concept white paper submitted by the community to the Decadal Survey Committee.

NASA strongly encourages innovative, compelling science investigations that significantly advance and expand the frontiers of the field of heliophysics. Mission concepts are expected to not have core science achievable within a MIDEX budget and to reflect the science achievable across a range of mission budgets. Although there is no upper-bound on prospective mission budgets, NASA expects to consider relatively few studies for missions that meet or exceed previous Heliophysics large strategic missions.

Due to the constrained timeline, the current public health situation, and other considerations, NASA will require that studies organize their use mission design capabilities within the community and beyond the NASA system. For reasons of community representation and diversity of ideas, NASA strongly encourages institutions with design capabilities to explore partnerships with interested community members.

Interested individuals are referred to the Heliophysics Mission Concept Studies NSPIRES webpage.

Living With a Star Architecture Study

In response to the recommendations of the 2013 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Decadal Survey for Solar and Space Physics and the subsequent 2019 Midterm Decadal Survey Assessment, the NASA Science Mission Directorate Heliophysics Division (HPD) began to re-evaluate the Living With a Star (LWS) program to assess the current state and produce a future mission architecture framework to continue the program into the next decade. HPD has contracted with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) to convene an expert committee composed of representatives from the broader heliophysics science community to conduct and solicit inputs from the community such that a final plan for the program would then be published in time for the next (2024) decadal survey.

The committee’s analysis will include:

  1. Assessment of previous and current state of NASA’s HPD LWS programs in:
  • Science topic, science target, science maturity;
  • Mission implementation details;
  • Programmatic structure and implementation plans including cost.
  1. Identification of future HPD LWS program architecture:
  • Responsive to multi-decadal science strategy;
  • Clear identifiable science goals;
  • Implementation strategies that are agile and responsive to NASA needs.

The committee will hold a number of virtual or face-to-face meetings beginning in Spring 2021, to include discussions with heliophysics community stakeholders, additional interactions with outside participants, and finalizing the committee report. One of these meetings shall take place in the Heliophysics 2050 Workshop during which the committee will review progress and status of the task and solicit community input. The committee will deliver its final report to HPD in December 2021.

For questions or further information, please contact Simon Plunkett.