The 18-month study recognized budget constraints, mission cost growth and limited availability of mid-sized launch vehicles as potential obstacles. It recommends collaboration on several new fronts as an antidote:
• NASA and the NSF should establish a multi-agency initiative, DRIVE, to further leverage federal assets by incorporating microsat missions where appropriate, ensuring adequate funding for mission operations and data analysis, investing in new technologies and participating in educational outreach.
• The National Space Weather Program should be re-chartered under the supervision of the National Science and Technology Council with input from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Office of Management and Budget to hasten new capabilities.
• A partnership among NASA, NOAA and the Defense Department to further solar and solar wind observations beyond the lifetimes of current missions including Soho and Stereo.
The panel turned to NASA’s Living with a Star program for a new major mission toward the end of the decade. The reference mission, the Geospace Dynamics Constellation, would study how the Earth’s atmosphere absorbs energy from the solar wind and responds on a global scale with a network of six satellites.