Polar Perspectives 2018 (Boulder, CO, September 25 – 27, 2018) – A Workshop to Discuss Solar Polar Mission Readiness

May 15, 2018, from Richard Morton

Announcing The Polar Perspectives 2018 Workshop
September 25 – 27, 2018
NCAR/HAO: Boulder CO.

Website; www2.hao.ucar.edu/PolarPerspectives2018

Workshop Charge: To explore the scientific breakthroughs made possible by repeated or sustained observations of the Sun’s polar regions, and to consider the technologies and orbital dynamics required to achieve measurements at the desired vantages.

Workshop Objective: Develop a science portfolio for a solar polar mission, present and discuss options on a baseline, and extended, suite of instrumentation, and develop a number of conceptual orbits available with existing launch capacity.

Workshop Motivation: For the first time in human history, our technology allows us to observe all longitudes of the solar atmosphere. The combined imaging data from SOHO, STEREO, and SDO have demonstrated some of the rotationally driven processes on our Star. They present a tantalizing glimpse of the Sun’s polar evolution when the data are pieced together, despite limitations arising the fact that all of these spacecraft are observing the poles from vantages close to the ecliptic plane. For decades, observations of high solar latitudes have been used as critical precursor input for predictions of decadal-scale solar activity. Many solar high-latitude phenomena—including polar coronal holes, polar crown filaments, and the Sun’s torsional oscillations—indicate a limiting latitude around 55 degrees (in each hemisphere) that apparently divides high- vs. low-latitude dynamical evolution. A polar view would directly reveal the Sun’s global-scale dynamics, investigate the sources of the fast solar wind, and witness the full lifetime of structures in the solar atmosphere from birth to death, including a Sun-to-Earth view of coronal mass ejections.

In this workshop we will take inventory of the science that might be accomplished by a solar polar mission. We will discuss mission architecture, maturity of required compact instrumentation, and technological limitations placed on any concept mission by currently available launch capacity and/or spacecraft propulsion systems.

An important precedent was set by the Ulysses mission, which obtained groundbreaking polar in-situ observations. Beyond this, numerous feasibility investigations of solar polar missions have already been undertaken. A key element of the workshop will be to capture the “lessons learned” from these past activities and to use them to effectively move forward in designing future solar polar missions.