Heliophysics Great Observatories and international cooperation in Heliophysics: An orchestrated framework for scientific advancement and discovery

Larry Kepko*, Rumi Nakamura, Yoshifumi Saito, Angelos Vourlidas, Matthew G.G.T. Taylor, Cristina H. Mandrini, Xóchitl Blanco-Cano, Dibyendu Chakrabarty, Ioannis A. Daglis, Clezio Marcos De Nardin, Anatoli Petrukovich, Minna Palmroth, George Ho, Louise Harra, Jonathan Rae, Mathew Owens, Eric Donovan, Benoit Lavraud, Geoff Reeves, Durgesh TripathiNicole Vilmer, Junga Hwang, Spiro Antiochos, Chi Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

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We suggest that the next era of Heliophysics should focus on the Sun–Heliosphere and Geospace as each a system-of-systems, and recommend a coordinated, deliberate, worldwide scientific effort to answer long-standing questions that will remain unanswered without a unified program. Many of the biggest unanswered science questions that remain across Heliophysics center around the interconnectivity of the different physical systems and the role of mesoscale dynamics in modulating, regulating, and controlling that interconnected behavior. Heliophysics has made key progress understanding both the large-scale dynamics and the microphysical processes that occur in these dynamic systems. Such understanding grew out of a systematic approach to study both limits of the system, from global, with the coordinated missions of the International Solar Terrestrial Physics (ISTP) program, to micro, with largely uncoordinated (albeit coincident) missions such as Cluster, Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS), Van Allen Probes, Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS), Parker Solar Probe, and Solar Orbiter. We suggest that the international Heliophysics community should embark on a grand program to study these system-of-systems holistically, with coordinated, multipoint measurements. We particularly recommend an emphasis on resolving the mesoscale dynamics that links micro to global, and a whole-of-science approach that includes ground-based measurements and advanced numerical modeling. In effect, we propose a mesoscale ISTP type program that would consist of a system of Great Observatories capable of revealing the connections among systems from the solar interior to the top of Earth's atmosphere. The paradigm and specific approaches outlined in this paper could serve as a strategic imperative and overarching theme that binds our Solar and Space Physics communities together under a common scientific objective. By its very nature, the type of program we argue for would be large, with several coordinated elements, and international in scope. It would include space-borne missions and coordinated ground-based observatories, artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) methods of analyzing large and complex datasets, and next-generation numerical modeling. The need to coordinate and integrate these different elements is independent of any specific mission implementation. Hence, we suggest the Heliophysics community organize around an ISTP-type program, ISTPNext, with associated Heliophysics “Great Observatories”.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5383-5405
Number of pages23
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Early online date9 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2024

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