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Cosmic Rays in the Heliosphere: Requirements for Future Observations

Abstract

Since the publication of Cosmic Rays in the Heliosphere in 1998 there has been great progress in understanding how and why cosmic rays vary in space and time. This paper discusses measurements that are needed to continue advances in relating cosmic ray variations to changes in solar and interplanetary activity and variations in the local interstellar environment. Cosmic ray acceleration and transport is an important discipline in space physics and astrophysics, but it also plays a critical role in defining the radiation environment for humans and hardware in space, and is critical to efforts to unravel the history of solar activity. Cosmic rays are measured directly by balloon-borne and space instruments, and indirectly by ground-based neutron, muon and neutrino detectors, and by measurements of cosmogenic isotopes in ice cores, tree-rings, sediments, and meteorites. The topics covered here include: what we can learn from the deep 2008–2009 solar minimum, when cosmic rays reached the highest intensities of the space era; the implications of 10Be and 14C isotope archives for past and future solar activity; the effects of variations in the size of the heliosphere; opportunities provided by the Voyagers for discovering the origin of anomalous cosmic rays and measuring cosmic-ray spectra in interstellar space; and future space missions that can continue the exciting exploration of the heliosphere that has occurred over the past 50 years.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by NASA at Caltech under grants NNX8AI11G and NNX10AE45G. The availability of neutron monitor data though National Science Foundation Grant ATM-0339527 to the University of New Hampshire is greatly appreciated. I have benefited from discussions with Jorg Beer, Alan Cummings, Frank McDonald, Harm Moraal, Ed Stone, and Bill Webber. I am very grateful for the very generous hospitality of ISSI, both during the Workshop and during the following week while some of us waited for the skies to clear from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano. Finally I thank Ruedi von Steiger for his patient encouragement during the preparation of this paper.

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Mewaldt, R.A. Cosmic Rays in the Heliosphere: Requirements for Future Observations. Space Sci Rev 176, 365–390 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-012-9922-0

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Keywords

  • Cosmic rays
  • Cosmogenic nuclides
  • Solar activity
  • Solar wind
  • Interplanetary magnetic field
  • Heliosphere
  • Heliopause
  • Interstellar medium