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Heliophysics is all of the science common to the field of the Sun-Earth connections. This fast-developing field of research covers many traditional sub-disciplines of space physics, astrophysics, and climate studies. The NASA Living With a Star program, with its focus on the basic science underlying all aspects of space weather, acts as a catalyst to bring the many research disciplines together to deepen our understanding of the system of systems formed by the Sun-Earth connection.
Scientific fields of research tend to split into parallel sub-disciplines as our understanding deepens. The successful increase in knowledge of the workings of the Sun's magnetic activity, the recognition of the many physical processes that couple throughout the heliosphere, and the insights into the interaction of the solar wind and radiation with the Earth's magnetic field and climate system, have tended to differentiate and insularize the solar, heliospheric, and geospace subdisciplines of the physics of the local cosmos. Technical jargons, publication channels, and meeting venues have also been subject to this tendency, hampering communication between the various subdisciplines.
The NASA Living With a Star (LWS) program aims to reverse this trend. The recognition that the many connections within the Sun-Earth system require a systems approach, led to the development of an integrated strategic mission plan and a comprehensive research program encompassing all branches of solar, heliospheric, and space physics. This has raised awareness and appreciation of the research priorities and difficulties among the LWS scientists, and has led to observational and modeling capabilities that span traditional discipline boundaries, and increased cross-publication in technical journals as well as the number of multi-disciplinary meetings.
The successful initial re-integration of the LWS subdisciplines, under the new term of heliophysics, needed to be expanded into the early education of scientists. This multi-year summer school is aimed to jump start this process.