Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Small Enabling eXperiments* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)

Friday, 19 December 2014: 10:20 AM
Harlan E. Spence, University of New Hampshire Main Campus, Space Science Center, Durham, NH, United States
The next decade poses great challenges but also promises great opportunities for new solar and space physics missions. As outlined in the 2012 Solar and Space Physics Decadal Survey, the prospects for new flagship or even large- and medium-cost space science missions in the coming decade are limited. On the other hand, the Survey also points out the many intrinsic and indeed critical values of low cost missions, in which outstanding scientific discovery can be accomplished in targeted and important ways, with a timeliness and capacity for hands-on training of the next generation of space scientists and engineers. In this presentation, we provide examples of such missions that have recently or are currently making new space science discoveries in targeted areas on smaller and less costly platforms (e.g., balloons, CubeSats, etc.) than those from the larger, more costly, community-consensus missions (e.g., LWS missions, STP missions, etc.). We also outline examples of new sensor designs and technologies that lend themselves to such resource-limited platforms, as well as examples of missions that are made possible that could answer long-standing and key space science questions. Finally, we note several exciting enabling technologies with the potential to substantially improve or even transform small, low-cost mission capabilities. While such missions will not likely ever fully replace the larger strategic missions, in the coming decade, they will certainly provide fresh, vibrant opportunities for innovative approaches on PI-led missions; these missions would stand alone scientifically as well as complement, augment, and provide continuity and community engagement between the larger strategic missions.