Written Evidence Submitted by

Professor Sarah Matthews, Professor Richard Harrison, Dr. Jackie Davies, Professor Peter Cargill, Professor Lyndsay Fletcher, Dr Huw Morgan, Dr Andrzej Fludra, Professor Mihalis Mathioudakis, Professor Robertus Erdélyi, Professor Ineke de Moortel, Professor Bill Chaplin, Professor Robert Walsh and UKSP Council

(SPA0034)

Evidence submitted on behalf of the UK Solar Physics Council (http://www.uksolphys.org/) with the following contributors:

 

Prof. Sarah Matthews1, Prof. Richard Harrison2, Dr. Jackie Davies2, Prof. Peter Cargill3, Prof. Lyndsay Fletcher4, Dr Huw Morgan5, Dr Andrzej Fludra2, Prof. Mihalis Mathioudakis6, Prof. Robertus Erdélyi7, Prof. Ineke de Moortel3, Prof. Bill Chaplin8, Prof. Robert Walsh9 and UKSP Council10

 

What are the prospects for the UK’s global position as a space nation, individually and through international partnerships;

 

The UK solar physics community has a high international profile in both instrumentation and science exploitation and the members of our community have been trusted and sought-after partners in all the major international solar space missions since the 1960s, providing substantial opportunities for the UK to project ‘soft power’ and for industry partnerships and growth. However, decades of declining investment in technology development, science exploitation and funding for participation in bilateral projects now presents an existential threat to that position, with an already realised decline in UK influence on the international stage. This is compounded by the absence of a national space strategy and an accompanying national programme for space science mission development.

 

 

         The solar physics community in the UK has enjoyed a worldwide reputation as a valued partner in international space science projects since the beginning of the space era and UK involvement in Ariel 1 (launch 1962).

         The UK’s leading contributions to international collaborative space science missions were fundamental in ensuring UK Presidency (Harrie Massey, UCL) of the European Space Sciences Committee that led to the foundation of ESRO and subsequently ESA. i.e. it afforded the UK real influence in setting the European space agenda.

         Between 1980 and the formation of UKSA in 2010 the UK solar physics community participated in 11 major international solar space missions in collaboration, primarily with NASA and JAXA. Only one was an ESA mission (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, SOHO).

         The UK had Principal Investigator (PI) roles, where it led the build of instruments and mission-level science definition, on 64% of those 11 and provided hardware for 82% of them. For the remaining two we had data/operational roles.

         This major hardware programme played a pivotal part in making the solar community in the UK what it is today – i.e. a highly valued and trusted international partner, and a scientific strength on the world stage

         Since the formation of UKSA we have seen the launch of the ESA Solar Orbiter mission (2020). UK groups hold PI or Co-PI roles on 4 of the 10 payload instruments.

         Future opportunities for the UK to maintain and strengthen its position of influence within the field are currently unlikely as a consequence of lack of funding, particularly for bilateral participation.

 

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the current UK space sector and research and innovation base;

 

Strengths:

 

 

Weaknesses:

 

 

What lessons can be learned from the successes and failures of previous space strategies for the UK and the space strategies of other countries;

 

 

What should be the aims and focus of a new UK Space Strategy, including considerations of:  

 

 

 

 

international considerations and partnerships;

 

Place;

 

 

 

 

1UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory; 2RAL Space; 3University of St Andrews; 4University of Glasgow; 5Aberystwyth University; 6Queen’s University Belfast; 7Sheffield University; 8University of Birmingham; 9University of Central Lancashire; 10 http://www.uksolphys.org/about-uksp/

 

 

(June 2021)