Second Solar Orbiter Workshop Report
17 November 2006The Second Workshop devoted to ESA's Solar Orbiter Mission was held at the Divani Palace Acropolis in Athens, Greece, on 16-20 October 2006. The workshop attracted almost 200 registered participants, with many young scientists and non-Europeans, a clear demonstration of the strong international support for Solar Orbiter within the solar-heliospheric science community. The meeting was an unqualified success, both from a scientific point of view, and - perhaps even more importantly - from a programmatic one.
In his opening address, the Director of ESA's Scientific Programme sent a clear message that a launch in 2015 would only be possible if significant savings could be made in the cost of Solar Orbiter. A major outcome in this respect was the progress made in joining ESA's Solar Orbiter and NASA's Sentinels into one coherent programme, possibly with a common launch. The compelling scientific synergy between the two missions, a topic of frequent discussion in the past, now seems to be underpinned by a strong Agency commitment to conduct the two as a single programme with significant added value. The details of this joint programme will be further elaborated in the coming months, supported by a joint Science and Technology Definition Team.
The scientific programme of the meeting was organised around the major themes of Solar Orbiter:
- Determining the properties, dynamics and interactions of plasma, fields and particles in the near-Sun heliosphere;
- Investigating the links between the solar surface, corona and inner heliosphere;
- Exploring, at all latitudes, the energetics, dynamics and fine-scale structure of the Sun's magnetized atmosphere;
- Probing the solar dynamo by observing the Sun's high-latitude field, flows and seismic waves.
The quality of presentations in both the oral and poster sessions was high, with many speakers emphasising the need to conduct science with Solar Orbiter in a coordinated, synergistic way. In practical terms, this implies significant inter-experiment communication, not only among the in-situ payload, but also with the remote-sensing instruments. In this regard, the goal of linking the solar surface, corona and inner heliosphere becomes even more relevant in the context of the joint Orbiter-Sentinels programme. The possibilities for multi-point, in-situ measurements together with near-Sun remote sensing clearly provide an added dimension to the science of both missions. While clearly embracing the concept of a joint Orbiter-Sentinels programme, many workshop participants also emphasised the need to maintain as much as possible the unique aspects of the original Solar Orbiter concept, namely out-of-ecliptic observations and quasi-corotation.
A definite highlight of the meeting was the conference excursion to Mycenae and Nafplion. Even though the weather was uncharacteristically chilly, this did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the participants for the impressive archaeological remains at Mycenae. All the climatic discomforts were soon forgotten during the conference dinner, especially by those brave enough to attempt the intricacies of Greek dancing.
The members of the international Scientific Organising Committee (SOC) were:
E. Marsch (D), R. Marsden (ESA), K. Tsinganos (G) (co-Chairs), and E. Antonucci (I), T. Appourchaux (F), P. Bochsler (CH), R. Bruno (I), M. Carlsson (N), B. Fleck (ESA), L. Harra (UK), R. Harrison (UK), J.-F. Hochedez (B), T. Horbury (UK), C. Keller (NL), R. Lin (USA), M. Maksimovic (F), V. Martinez-Pillet (ES), Å. Nordlund (DK), S. Solanki (D), A. Szabo (USA), A. Vourlidas (USA), and R. Wimmer-Schweingruber (D).
The Local Organizing Committee, lead by K. Tsinganos, did an excellent job and the attendees enjoyed the kind hospitality of the Greek hosts and their many helpers. Their professional and tireless efforts helped greatly in making the meeting a success. The Proceedings of the workshop will be published by ESA's Publications Division as Special Publication SP-641 on CD-ROM.