Volume XXIII, Issue 64

Editor: Peter Chi
Co-Editor: Guan Le
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Table of Contents

1. Letter from the Director, NASA Headquarters Heliophysics Division



Letter from the Director, NASA Headquarters Heliophysics Division

From: Steven Clarke (steven.w.clarke at

Dear Colleagues,

As another year draws to a close, we are all preparing for the upcoming AGU in San Francisco. For many this will be the final major activity of the year, followed (I hope) by some rest and relaxation with family and friends during the holidays.

This has been an extraordinary year for our heliophysics community: Our five missions in development continue to make progress toward launch dates within the next two years. MMS continues to provide spectacular data in its second year of primary operations as part of the diverse HSO fleet. The first Heliophysics CubeSat, (MinXSS), was launched from the ISS and is getting great data on solar X-ray flares. As summarized in a recent report by the Space Studies Board, CubeSats have provided some important science results in heliophysics and hold promise for future missions. The BARREL team concluded another successful balloon campaign from the Esrange Space Center in Sweden, getting unique perspectives of particle dissipation from the radiation belts in conjunction with observations by the Van Allen Probes. Our theory and modeling teams are making important contributions related to the multi-scalar processes that shape the solar corona and also the outer regions of the heliosphere. The amazing contributions you have made toward improving our science continue to provide invaluable benefits to society.

Additional science mission opportunities are becoming reality with the release of the Heliophysics Small Explorer Announcement of Opportunity (AO) and Mission of Opportunity (MO) this year. All of the proposals are now under review and evaluation. My staff and I are working hard on the next Solar Terrestrial Probes AO for the Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP), developing a strategy to provide the flexibility to ensure the best ideas for achieving the critical science objectives, as laid out by the Space Studies Board, are considered. We expect to release the draft AO and an accompanying MO in the Spring.

We continue to find ways to accelerate the DRIVE initiative to enhance our research programs as we look forward to full implementation in FY2018. Looking more long term, we’re considering developing Science and Technology Definition Teams (STDTs) next year to define the path for the sequential STP missions and the next Living With a Star (LWS) mission, taking advantage of new developments in our science and new developments in instrument and spacecraft technologies.

Space Weather continues to be a high national priority and the collaborative work across the agencies continues. Several of the plans called for in the National Space Weather Action Plan are nearing completion. Besides the ongoing research we do, we continue to work with the operational community and the users of their products to identify opportunities for the enhancement of space weather forecasting capabilities for the protection of life on Earth, our space-based observatories and human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize our new Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA HQ, Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen. Our SMD leadership team is very pleased to have him at the helm of SMD. His scientific expertise and leadership have already made a positive impact across the space and Earth science communities.

Indeed, it has been a highly successful and busy year with the expectation of an even better 2017. With the Presidential transition and the expected change of senior NASA leadership, there is also uncertainty; however, I don’t anticipate any significant change to the Heliophysics priorities. I look forward to working with you through this transition as a united community, striving to improve its scientific capabilities and its positive impact on society!



Steven W. Clarke
Director, Heliophysics Division
NASA Headquarters


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