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imageICESTAR & International Heliophysical Year (IHY) - Interhemispheric Conjugacy in Geospace Phenomena and their Heliospheric Drivers High energy particles from space generate the Aurora and illustrate why the polar regions are unique places for space research. Throughout IPY scientists from 22 countries, using instruments on balloons, ships, spacecraft and the ground will investigate how plasma and magnetic fields from the Sun affect near-Earth space and our atmosphere, improving our understanding of the impact of space weather on satellites, ground-based technology, terrestrial weather and climate.

Heliosphere impact on geospace—How is the Earth influenced by phenomena in our solar system?

The polar regions offer unique vantage points for remote sensing the vast regions of near-Earth space (geospace) because the Earth’s magnetic field focuses many geospace effects to these regions.  To date Antarctica has been under-exploited relative to the Arctic, but has land mass on which to base instruments near the magnetic pole and provides undisturbed background conditions in which to run measurement campaigns. 

During the IPY years many new datasets for both poles will be created by instruments on the ground and also on balloons, ships and spacecraft.  This will continue recent trends which have seen a significant increase in the volume of experimental data for research into geospace and the upper and middle atmosphere, with much of it readily available to researchers worldwide using the internet.  In response to this growing flood of data, research groups and data providers are putting special effort into the development of methods for seamless data sharing and tools for visualizing and assimilating multidisciplinary observations from distributed sources.  Advances in computer technology are also continuously improving our ability to run massive simulations in reasonable times. 

This combination of more and better data and growing computing power means we are approaching the point where we can start to examine the complex geospace environment as a single system rather than separately studying its component parts.  By controlling and evaluating theoretical models using the unprecedented multitude of ground-based and satellite observations new understandings will be reached about the interactions between the atmosphere, geospace, solar activity and cosmic background radiation.