NSF News

Teams of NSF-supported researchers to increase society's resilience to space weather hazards

Got space weather problems? NSF has 'ANSWERS'

The U.S. National Science Foundation has announced its first round of awards under the Grand Challenges in Integrative Geospace Sciences: Advancing National Space Weather Expertise and Research toward Societal Resilience, or ANSWERS, solicitation.

ANSWERS projects will focus on two main research areas -- solar and space physics, and space weather and space climate. These topics are critical to advancing scientific discovery and to protecting the nation's economy and security. Solar and space weather events such as geomagnetic storms pose hazards to satellite communications, navigation systems, electrical power and other aspects of a technology-dependent society.

ANSWERS provides an opportunity for collaboration and a holistic approach to understanding the dynamic, integrated sun-Earth system, as well as the causes of space weather and its effects from "sun to mud." Through ANSWERS, researchers with expertise in solar and geospace observations, modeling, theory, experimentation, computational science and education will work together to address some of the most challenging questions in solar and space physics and space weather. 

The new awards will broaden participation in space weather science and education through support of early career researchers and those traditionally underrepresented in STEM, including female scientists, students and other researchers at minority-serving institutions, and those at universities in EPSCoR states.

Research teams will use NSF-funded scientific instruments to meet their goals, including solar telescopes, all-sky imagers, Lidar, radar, magnetometers, experimental plasma physics facilities, and neutron monitors.

"We created ANSWERS to stretch beyond the traditional scope of our long-standing research programs," says Mangala Sharma, program director for space weather in the U.S. National Science Foundation's Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences. "We are striving to increase our understanding of the sun-Earth system and the causes of space weather and its impacts on our planet."  

NSF is investing approximately $12 million in seven awards, each of which will advance space weather research, resilience and education. The project teams involve scientists at universities, research institutes, private companies and nonprofit organizations across the country. In addition to increasing resilience to space weather risks, ANSWERS funding will provide training opportunities for an emerging scientific and technical workforce. ANSWERS projects include a significant education or public participation component to increase understanding of the sun-Earth geospace system.