This is interesting. It seems that NASA has taken an interest in the current solar minimum and is getting ready to launch one or more studies about it. They are soliciting proposals. Leif, here is your chance. – Anthony
From this NASA document (PDF here)
ROSES-09 Amendment 1: New proposal opportunity in Appendix B.9:
Causes and Consequences of the Minimum of Solar Cycle 23
This amendment establishes a new program element in Appendix B.9
entitled gCauses and Consequences of the Minimum of Solar Cycle
23.h This new program element solicits proposals to study the causes
and consequences of the minimum of Solar Cycle 23. Proposals are
encouraged that take advantage of this opportunity with studies of
domains ranging from the center of the Sun through terrestrial and
planetary space environments to the boundary of the heliosphere. High
priority will be given to studies addressing the interaction between
Notices of Intent to propose are due April 17, 2009, and proposals
are due June 5, 2009.
On or about March 6, 2009, this Amendment to the NASA Research
Announcement gResearch Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences
(ROSES) 2009 (NNH09ZDA001N) will be posted on the NASA research
opportunity homepage at http://nspires.nasaprs.com/ (select
gSolicitationsh then gOpen Solicitationsh then gNNH09ZDA001Nh).
Further information about the Causes and Consequences of the Minimum
of Solar Cycle 23 program element is available from Dr. Mary Mellott,
Heliophysics Division, Science Mission Directorate, NASA
Headquarters, Washington, DC 20546; Telephone: (202) 358-0893;
Michael Ronanye writes:
This is a three year project with funding of 1.5 million dollars per year and total funding of 4.5 million dollars over the life of the project. This is a very good insurance and CYA policy on NASA’s part. They may get some interesting research out of the project and if conditions on the Sun take an unexpected turn, they can always say: “Yes Senator, NASA was right of top of the situation and we funded this new project on 3/5/2009”!
From the document:
.9 CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES OF THE MINIMUM OF SOLAR CYCLE 23
B.9 CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES OF THE MINIMUM OF SOLAR CYCLE 23
1. Scope of Program
In 2009, we are in the midst of the minimum of solar activity that marks the end of Solar Cycle 23. As this cycle comes to an end we are recognizing, in retrospect, that the Sun has been extraordinarily quiet during this particular Solar Cycle minimum. This is evidenced in records of both solar activity and the response to it of the terrestrial space environment. For example:
Causes – Solar output
- Lowest sustained solar radio flux since the F 10.7 proxy was created in 1947;
- Solar wind global pressure the lowest observed since the beginning of the Space age;
- Unusually high tilt angle of the solar dipole throughout the current solar minimum;
- Solar wind magnetic field 36% weaker than during the minimum of Solar Cycle 22;
- Effectively no sunspots;
- The absence of a classical quiescent equatorial streamer belt; and
- Cosmic rays at near record-high levels.
- With the exception of 1934, 2008 had more instances of 3-hr periods with Kp=0 than any other year since the creation of the index in 1932;
- Cold contracted ionosphere and upper atmosphere; and
- Remarkably persistent recurrent geomagnetic activity.
Thus, we have an unprecedented opportunity to characterize the quiet/background state of the heliosphere when the solar source function is as close to the ground state as it has been in the modern era.
NASA’s Heliophysics Division wishes to facilitate study of this special period. This ROSES element thus solicits proposals to study the Causes and Consequences of the Minimum of Solar Cycle 23 (CCMSC). Proposals are encouraged that take advantage of this opportunity with studies of domains ranging from the center of the Sun through terrestrial and planetary space environments to the boundary of the heliosphere. High priority will be given to studies addressing the interaction between various regimes.
Taking maximum advantage of this opportunity will require interaction between specialists in different regimes. Selected Principal Investigators will have responsibilities for both their own specific research and for participation in a yearly workshop where all the CCMSC investigators will be brought together to explore the implications of their own work for other regions. Proposals should address both of these responsibilities.