LWS Architecture Committee

A Living With a Star Architecture Study

Enhancing our understanding of the Earth-Space system.

Honing our capability to predict potentially harmful phenomena.

View the LWS Architecture Committee Report

View the LWS Architecture Committee High Level Summary

Since its founding in 2001, NASA’s Living With a Star (LWS) program has sought a cross-disciplinary approach to enhance our scientific understanding of the Sun-Earth system and target aspects of that system that affect life and society. LWS missions have helped to achieve that overarching goal in the decades since, providing better predictive understanding of the Sun-Earth system, linkages between various solar, Earth and space systems, and space weather conditions both here at Earth and in the interplanetary medium.

These missions include Parker Solar Probe, which is unlocking the mysteries of the Sun’s atmosphere; the Solar Dynamics Observatory, which seeks to understand the Sun’s influence on Earth and near-Earth space; Solar Orbiter, which will capture the first-ever images of the Sun’s north and south poles; and Space Environment Testbeds, which seeks to study how to best protect satellites in space from solar variability.

With a new decade already in full swing, the NASA Science Mission Directorate Heliophysics Division (HPD) is reevaluating the LWS program’s current architecture with the aim to produce an updated framework that will continue the program into the next decade.

Living With a Star Architecture Study

NASA has tasked the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) with spearheading the Living With a Star Architecture Study, which brings together a committee of 10 heliophysics and space physics researchers. They will conduct and solicit inputs from the broader heliophysics community that will aid in creating a framework that will further LWS's goals and optimize new technology in its 10 strategic science areas (SSAs) as defined by the LWS Program Analysis Group (LPAG) and identified appropriate science objectives. These following strategic areas aim to enhance our understanding of the Earth-Space system and hone our capability to predict potentially harmful phenomena.

The committee is currently developing representative Focused Mission Topics (FMTs) for multiple SSAs. To ensure the LWS program will continue to fill current scientific gaps and meet scientific objectives with up-to-date models, technologies and strategies, the committee is seeking comments and input from the broader scientific community.

We would like your feedback on these items – you can find a feedback form for each SSA below. We recognize there is a lot of material there; feel free to comment (briefly if possible) on a subset of the items (even within an SSA or within a given science objective). The forms will be open from August 7-31.

From this material we will be forming Focused Mission Topics which will be presented for additional input later in the year. If you have any questions, please email us at SES-LWS-AC-Web@jhuapl.edu.


  • SSA-I: Origins and Variability of Global Solar Processes
    Origins and variability of global solar processes, including the solar cycle, dynamo, irradiance and solar wind.
  • SSA-II: Solar Eruptive and Transient Heliospheric Phenomena
    Solar eruptive and transient heliospheric phenomena, such as flares, CMEs and corotating regions.


  • SSA-IV: Variability of the Geomagnetic Environment
    Variability of the geomagnetic environment, including geomagnetically induced currents, geomagnetic storms and substorm.
  • SSA-V: Dynamics of the Global Ionosphere and Plasmasphere
    Dynamics of the global ionosphere and plasmasphere, such as storm time dynamics, traveling ionospheric disturbances and plasmasphere refilling.
  • SSA-VI: Ionospheric Irregularities
    Irregularities in the ionosphere, such a plasma instabilities, scintillation and polar cap absorption.


  • SSA-III: Acceleration and Transport of Energetic Particles in the Heliosphere
    Acceleration and transport of energetic particles throughout the heliosphere.
  • SSA-VIII: Radiation and Particle Environment from Near Earth to Deep Space
    Radiation and particle environment from near-Earth to deep space, including the radiation belts, heliospheric energetic particles, radiation damage, and human exposure.

Neutral Atmosphere

  • SSA-VII: Composition and Energetics of the Upper Neutral Atmosphere
    Composition and energetics of the upper neutral atmosphere, including atmospheric drag, heating and cooling, and waves and tides.
  • SSA-IX: Solar Impacts on Climate
    Solar impacts on climate, such as the ozone layer, the chemical and dynamical response of the atmosphere, and solar irradiance.
  • SSA-X: Stellar Impacts on Planetary Habitability
    Stellar impacts on planetary habitability,
  • such as atmospheric stripping, magnetospheric shielding, stellar winds, and stellar evolution.

Contact us

Committee Members

Jeff Morrill



Elsayed Talaat



Simon Plunkett



Thomas Berger

University of Colorado

Nicole Duncan

Ball Aerospace

Tuija Pulkkinen

University of Michigan

Naomi Maruyama

University of Colorado

Adam Szabo


Eftyhia Zesta