http://www.facebook.com/ScienceReason ... Understanding The Sun - The NASA Heliophysics Program.
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We live in an exciting environment: the heliosphere, the exotic outer atmosphere of a star. The space beyond Earths protective atmospheric cocoon is highly variable and far from benign. It is the one part of the cosmos accessible to direct scientific investigation, our only hands-on astrophysical laboratory.
Our technological society is increasingly susceptible to space weather disturbances in this curious region. A host of interconnected physical processes, strongly influenced by solar variability, affect the health and safety of travelers in space and the habitability of alien environments. We call the science of the Sun-Solar System Connections "Heliophysics".
Building on NASAs rich history of exploration of the Earths neighborhood and distant planetary systems, we are poised to develop the quantitative knowledge needed to help assure the safety of the new generation of human and robotic explorers. The Heliophysics Program has been completely reevaluated to address the needs of the Vision for Space Exploration.
NASAs future research and exploration within its Heliophysics program aims to "explore the Sun-Earth system to understand the Sun and its effects on Earth, the solar system, and the space environmental conditions that will be experienced by explorers, and to demonstrate technologies that can improve future operational systems."
We have unfolded this articulated strategic goal into the three broad science and exploration objectives:
• Open the Frontier to Space Weather Prediction: Understand the fundamental physical processes of the space environment from the Sun to Earth, to other planets, and beyond to the interstellar medium.
• Understand the Nature of Our Home in Space: Understand how human society, technological systems, and the habitability of planets are affected by solar variability interacting with planetary magnetic fields and atmospheres.
• Safeguard the Journey of Exploration: Maximize the safety and productivity of human and robotic explorers by developing the capability to predict the extreme and dynamic conditions in space.
The Heliophysics Science Division (HSD) is located at the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, MD, USA. It provides scientific leadership and expertise necessary to achieve NASAs strategic science goals in solar physics, heliospheric physics, geospace physics and space weather.
It leads the definition and development of missions in support of these goals and performs fundamental research into solar structure and magnetic activity, the origins and acceleration of the solar wind, the effects of solar outbursts on the heliosphere, the response of the coupled magnetosphere-ionosphere system at the Earth and other planets to solar variability including solar irradiance.