Submission from Dr David Tsiklauri, University
1. THE IMPACT
Total UK public sector expenditure on civil
space is low relative to the US and some other European countries
(Figure 2 from Ref. ). In 2004 national civil space budget
as the percentage of GDP was about 10 times less than in eg US,
Russia or France. This is manly due to the lack of necessary space
launch facilities and technology infrastructure. Since the
start of space era, UK has been relying on European and US partners
for launching its civil space satellites. In that, UK's "partnership"
approach to space exploration differs from the ones adopted in
countries such as US, Russia and France. The latter have autonomous
space programmes, but also participate in collaborative partnerships.
The absence of space vehicle launching capability and necessary
technology in UK's space programme significantly reduces our country's
competitiveness in the global market. As an academic, I can see
a direct link of a serous problem of the lack of popularity of
the science-related subjects amongst A-levels student population
with the virtual absence of an autonomous space programme.
This problem directly feeds into the lack of well-trained science
graduates. On short timescale, this problem can be offset by the
influx of science graduates from overseas (mainly Europe). However,
long-term solution necessarily needs to involve rising science
education's profile nationally. The best way of achieving this
would be investing more into the space programme, which has its
own space vehicle launching capability, necessary technology
base and infrastructure. In addition to the benefits of rectifying
the above-mentioned problem, such investment will create science
and technology-intensive jobs in the UK as opposed to contracting
them out to our partners. In such approach, in addition to the
government funds, co-investment from well-developed UK space industry
should be sought and encouraged. It needs to be recognised that
a self-contained, autonomous space programme will also
lead to the advances in technology from related fields such as
new materials, which is of paramount importance for UK's
competitiveness in the global market.
In addition, space technology often finds applications
in different fields, beneficial to society, such as inland security.
A good example of the latter is T-ray technology that has been
successfully implemented in airport security and medical imaging
. At the same time, it is necessary to continue participation
in current and future join ventures with ESA and NASA to maintain
competitiveness and have access to the new technology developed
by our space partners.
2. SUPPORT FOR
THE UK SKILLS
UK's space exploration and astronomy is funded
and managed by the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council
(PPARC). According to Ref , in 2003-04 Solar System research
has received 5.1% of total PPARC's budget. This level of funding
seems to be too small, given the fact that this is the main source
of financial support for UK's space-related research. Ref 
gives a well-balanced and adequate description of the current
and, importantly, future research in this field. It also recognises
main challenges and proposes strategies to achieve the best possible
outcomes. Thus, in order to be able meet current commitments and
increase the above percentage of 5.1, more funds need to be
made available for PPARC.
Understanding of physical processes in the solar
atmosphere is of paramount importance both from a fundamental
point of view because solar plasma is one of the best accessible
plasma laboratories in space due to its close proximity; as well
as from the applied point of view because physical phenomena like
solar flares and coronal mass ejections affect our
daily lives. Globally, about one satellite per year is lost due
to these violent events. These phenomena are studied in the newly
emerging field of space weather. The latter term refers
to the conditions of space plasma and solar wind in the interplanetary
space. In the US, the agency that oversees space weather is NOAA.
It classifies hazards posed by the space weather in several categories.
To signify importance of the space weather below the extreme examples
are quoted from Ref :
(i) NOAA Space Weather Scale for Geomagnetic
Scale G5 Extreme:
Power systems: widespread voltage control problems
and protective system problems can occur; some grid systems may
experience complete collapse or blackouts. Transformers may experience
Spacecraft operations: may experience extensive
surface charging, problems with orientation, uplink/downlink and
Other systems: pipeline currents can reach hundreds
of amps, HF (high frequency) radio propagation may be impossible
in many areas for one to two days, satellite navigation may be
degraded for days, low-frequency radio navigation can be out for
hours, and aurora has been seen as low as Florida and southern
Texas (typically 40° geomagnetic latitude).
Physical measure: Kp = 9.
Number of storm events per 11 year cycle: 4
Number of storm days: 4 days per cycle.
(ii) NOAA Space Weather Scale for Solar Radiation
Scale S5 Extreme:
Biological: unavoidable high radiation hazard
to astronauts on EVA (extra-vehicular activity); high radiation
exposure to passengers and crew in commercial jets at high latitudes
(approximately 100 chest x-rays) is possible.
Satellite operations: satellites may be rendered
useless, memory impacts can cause loss of control, may cause serious
noise in image data, star-trackers may be unable to locate sources;
permanent damage to solar panels possible.
Other systems: complete blackout of HF (high
frequency) communications possible through the polar regions,
and position errors make navigation operations extremely difficult.
Flux level of = 10 MeV particles (ions): 105s-1-1-2pa
Number of events: less than one per 11 year cycle
(iii) NOAA Space Weather Scale for Radio Blackouts
Scale R5 Extreme:
HF Radio: Complete HF (high frequency) radio
blackout on the entire sunlit side of the Earth lasting for a
number of hours. This results in no HF radio contact with mariners
and en route aviators in this sector.
Navigation: Low-frequency navigation signals
used by maritime and general aviation systems experience outages
on the sunlit side of the Earth for many hours, causing loss in
positioning. Increased satellite navigation errors in positioning
for several hours on the sunlit side of Earth, which may spread
into the night side.
Flux, measured in the 0.1-0.8 nm range: 2 x
10-3 in W.m-2.
Number of events: less than 1 per 11 year cycle.
The better understanding of solar and space
plasmas is very important because, only solar physics fundamental
research can answer questions such as, what triggers the above-mentioned
violent space phenomena; how they propagate in space on the collision
course to Earth and what can be done to minimize the impact.
In this field, UK plays a leading role in Europe
and worldwide through its network of PPARC funded theoretical
/ modelling groups spread across major universities as well as
experimental sites such as MSSL and CCLRC in Oxfordshire. Two
recent space missions led by Japan and NASA will soon provide
large quantities of the observational data that needs interpreting
and analysing. In addition, new, more advanced than existing,
numerical codes need to be developed in order to provide a solid
theoretical/modelling base for the analysis and interpretation
of the new observational data. This can secure UK's future key
role in this field internationally. In order to achieve the best
possible outcomes, PPARC's budget needs to be increased, including
the faction invested into Solar System research within the research
In addition to the above-mentioned benefits,
the space plasma research has a considerable value from the point
of view of fundamental plasma physics. In particular, better understanding
space plasmas will be beneficial for advancing our knowledge of
thermonuclear fusion research. With the recent £10 billion
ITER initiative, (international agreement for which is due to
be signed on 21 November 2006 in Paris), the increase of investment
in the space plasma research cannot be timelier. Thus, there is
a clear indication of socio-economical impact of the space and
solar plasma research, which calls for the increase in funding
 POSTnote, Parliamentary Office
of Science and Technology, March 2006 Number 262, http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentaryoffices/post/pubs2006.cfm
 PPARC and Parliament Science at the
Frontier, Issue 8, July 2006. http://www.pparc.ac.uk/pbl/pdf/NLet8.pdf
 PPARC strategic plan 2003-2008, p 23.
 PPARC Solar System Science Strategy
 Data from NOAA website http://www.sec.noaa.gov/NOAAscales/