Near-Earth space is an integral part of the Earth system, providing the link between the Sun and Earth primarily through the Polar Regions and posing a potential hazard to space- borne and ground based technology on which society is increasingly dependent. Near-Earth space observations also offer the potential for linking space weather (and such phenomena as solar flares) to terrestrial weather as experienced in the lower atmosphere; such linkage calls for close collaboration between the ground and space weather communities. An integrated, quantitative description of the upper atmosphere over Antarctica and its coupling to the geo-space environment is needed.
Antarctica also has unique characteristics that make it a highly desirable vantage point for upper atmospheric, solar, astrophysical and astronomical observations. Antarctic astronomy and astrophysics researchers address fundamental questions including: locating the first stars and galaxies; defining the nature of the dark universe; detecting gravity waves; and identifying exo-planets and the formation of exo-solar systems. The interests of this community will continue to evolve as major new infrastructure and instruments come on-line enhancing an already impressive array of instruments in the Polar Regions.
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