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Thursday, March 06, 2008

STP and the Programmatic Review

Following on from the previous post I thought it worth taking stock of where the programmatic review has left STP before the consultation.

Here are all the facilities that STP folk would have an interest in and their current ranking (with my best guesses for levels of relevance to the larger community as it stands):

Venus Express - High (probable minimal, mostly planetary)
Solar Orbiter - Medium-High (some interest, mostly solar)
ExoMars - Medium-High (some interest (though low), mostly planetary)
Cluster - Medium-Low (high interest, core)
Cassini - Medium-Low (medium interest, magnetospheres)
SOHO - Medium-Low (low interest (supplanted by Hinode?), mostly solar)
STEREO -Medium-Low (medium-high interest, mostly solar, some core)
UKSSDC - Medium-Low (medium interest, core)
Hinode - Low (medium interest, mostly solar, some core)
Ground-Based STP - Low (high interest, core)

As you can see the real core STP projects fared very badly. Assuming for a moment that none of the low and medium low get funded then we can kiss core STP good-bye. No more monitoring or understanding of how the Sun affects the Earth. The artificial distinction between ground and space based STP disappears because STP as a whole is gone. No more 'we are only talking about ground-based here' statements.

Of course both Hinode and STEREO had caveats attached and so they might be okay. The funny thing is that these will provide a perfect opportunity to watch large transient events leaving the sun and travelling to the Earth and then we have no capability to monitor what happens afterwards. This is an unreal situation to be in and reflects badly on STFC and the members of PPAN and Science Board (in my opinion). No joined up thinking anywhere in the system.

I find it amusing that UKSSDC (a data repository) was ranked higher than the facilities whose data they store. No offence meant to my colleagues over at RAL who run it but this is a ridiculous decision.

PPAN have said that they were dismayed and outraged at what they were called to do. I am glad that they then took a firm stand and resigned en-masse.

Oh, they didn't? I see. I at least hope they thought about it.

Back to the programmatic review. If these STP projects disappear then you really can kiss goodbye to the field of STP. There will be a gap of several years until anything related to what we do will appear again. We have some interest in LOFAR, we have Kua-Fu that may fly (joint with China), then maybe Cross-Scale. But in the meantime nothing to plug the gap.

Essentially looking at 'core' items. If Cluster goes, we have no ability left to monitor the Earth's plasma environment. As it is we have no way in the UK of placing Cluster measurements in context. All STP work in the UK will become subsidiary to the US, Canada, Europe, Japan and China.

This whole thing is a joke. The government is failing the country, and STFC is failing the scientists.

1 comment:

Vey Anonymous Physicist said...

Hmm, interesting that things based at RAL are all ranked higher than anything elsewhere. Both in the PPAN and the PALS areas.
Everything at Daresbury has been ranked "low" for instance. And look at Jodrell Bank.

The malign influence of Oxford University strikes again methinks.