NASA AMES Overview

Comparative Heliophysics Summer Program
"Solar-stellar connections, space-weather impacts at terrestrial planets, and small-science instrumentation”


NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CaliforniaNASA Ames

June 6 - July 1, 2016

Proposal Deadline: March 14, 2016


2016 Topic Areas

  • Solar stellar connection
  • Space weather impacts on solar and exo-planets
  • Achieving helio/astro-physics science goals with small/nano satellites


The Comparative Heliophysics Summer Program focuses on the physics of space weather events and their interactions with planetary atmospheres. In the heliosphere, the events start at the Sun and influence the atmospheres, ionospheres, and magnetospheres of Earth and the other planets in the solar system. Observations of these interactions provide data on the interaction of these bodies with the plasma environment and can be studied to advance theoretical development and validation.  Similar processes occur around other stars and their exo-planets. The wide variety of exoplanet systems being discovered offers a rich ground to explore. Even when restricted to Sun-like stars, the variety of activities is large ¾ our limited lifespan offers us a only a brief sample of solar activities, whereas comparative stellar astrophysics enables us to effectively study solar conditions over much longer timescales and so to explore solar and heliospheric activity of the distant past and future.

The Comparative Heliophysics Summer Program 2016 at NASA Ames will focus on the foundations of heliophysics and related disciplines as applied to stars like the Sun and planets like those in the solar system with similar formation histories and that are relevant to understanding the formation, evolution, and present state of our immediate space environment. The program offers also the opportunity to explore approaches to sensor development that address space-weather impact on planetary atmospheres. It is intended to offer the participants an opportunity to carry out a serious program of research while interacting with colleagues. The primary focus is to seed and encourage new multi-disciplinary research through interactions with scientists of various backgrounds. It is expected that the investigations will lead to high-impact publications and opportunities to expand into new research areas.

Up to 25 students will be selected through a competitive process organized by the Cooperative Programs for the Advancement of Earth System Science (CPAESS). In addition, three to five advisors will be recruited from NASA's Ames Research Center to participate in the Summer Program. The program will last for four weeks from June 6 to July 1, 2016. 

Guideline for Proposal Writing

Short proposals are encoraged that focus on new multi-disciplinary research that will lead to high-impact publications and opportunities to expand into new research areas. Science questions and observations pertaining to the topics above should be identified that can benefit from solar-stellar-planetary comparative investigations. The proposer should identify the tools and resources needed to carry out the investigation and describe in sufficient detail the tasks required so as to convince the reviewers of the feasibility and quality of the resulting effort. The proposer should articulate the impact of the research on the field and outline a plan for disseminating the results.

How the program works

A main objective of the HC Summer Program is to encourage interactions between scientists of various backgrounds. The program will provide office accomodation and computer resources to the students and advisors. Students are encouraged to work with their advisors on developing the proposal and associated tools to carry out the proposed effort. The proposals will be reviewed by scientists interested in the proposed field of investigation. These scientists may also choose to act as collaborators/mentors to the participants, therefore identifying potential mentors that are interested in the proposed work is highly encoraged. The program will begin with brief presentations by the particpants on their plans for the four weeks. Mid-way and final presentations will also be presented. The program will also offer one plenary lecture per week reviewing subjects of interest to the program. The rest of the four week session will be devoted to research time. 

Travel Support

A steering committee selected by the Heliophysics Discipline Scientist and ARC Scientists managing the summer program and appointed by UCAR evaluates proposals and makes recommendations for support to summer program sponsors. CPAESS provides support for travel expenses inlcuding airfare, a stipend for per diem, and lodging during the month long meeting.

Program administration

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research is a consortium of more than 100 member colleges and universities focused on research and training in the atmospheric and related Earth system sciences. The Cooperative Programs for the Advancement of Earth System Science (CPAESS) office partners with federal agencies and universities across the nation to recruit, hire, and provide administrative management to scientists who are working on cutting-edge research of benefit to society.

For further information, please call Nagi Nicolas Mansour at

(650) 604-6420 or e-mail

The Living With a Star program of the Heliophysics Division in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate
sponsors the NASA Ames Summer Program. The Cooperative Programs for the Advancement of Earth System Science (CPAESS) collaborates with NASA in administering the program. The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research is an EE/AAE who values and encourages diversity in the workplace. Images courtesy of NASA.