At the Frontier of Space Exploration: PILOT and the Decadal Survey

Public Lectures

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At the Frontier of Space Exploration: PILOT and the Decadal Survey

March 1, 2023
7:30 -
8:30 PM MT/MST

Every ten years, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine generate a decadal survey for each space science discipline. This strategic planning effort defines compelling science, identifies ambitious exploration goals, and seeks cutting-edge mission concepts to pursue in the next decade. The third Solar and Space Physics Decadal Survey is under way. The science community provides input to the decadal surveys by writing white papers, some of which define innovative space mission concepts.

Recently, LASP conducted a year-long science and engineering study to define one such mission concept called the Plasma Imaging LOcal and Tomographic experiment (PILOT). PILOT is designed to explore whether a planetary magnetic field can shield a planet’s atmosphere from erosion by solar wind, or whether it actually expedites atmospheric loss to space. PILOT seeks to answer this question using a constellation of spacecraft to follow the three-dimensional flow of mass and energy through Earth’s magnetosphere in real time.

This talk introduces the NASA Decadal Survey process, discusses its successes and challenges, and describes the PILOT mission concept, which is just one of LASP’s many contributions to expanding the frontiers of space exploration.

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