Message from the Project Leader
Kanya Kusano (Nagoya University)
Leader of PSTEP
Over the past 50 years, space exploration has spread rapidly, and has now even reached beyond the heliosphere. Moreover, the globalization and informatization of society has progressed rapidly; our lives are now strongly tied to advanced information systems and space technology in various ways. Consequently, solar activity and the dynamics of space are now known to significantly impact human socio-economic systems as well as the global environment. The giant solar flare observed by the British astronomer Richard Carrington in 1859, called the Carrington event, caused powerful magnetic storms. If such an event occurred in the modern era, power, satellite, aviation, and communication networks would possibly suffer from damage on a global scale. Moreover, analyses of the latest stellar observations and of cosmogenic isotopes in tree rings suggest the possibility of even larger solar flares. However, the mechanisms for the onset of solar flares and the subsequent processes have not yet been fully explained. Therefore, modern society is at a risk from severe space weather disturbances, which are caused by such solar explosions. Solar activity, which corresponds to the sunspot number, shows an 11/22-year cycle; however, current solar activity (Cycle 24) is considered to be the least in the last few decades. Although many proxy data suggest that the solar activity affects the terrestrial climate, the physical processes by which solar activity affects the climate variations are unclear; moreover, the influence of the Sun on climate change is still controversial. Therefore, understanding and predicting the variation of the solar-terrestrial environment is both a scientific subject and a crucial issue in modern society. Project for Solar-Terrestrial Environment Prediction (PSTEP) is a nation-wide research collaboration that was launched on the basis of the cooperation of researchers in various fields with the support of a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas from MEXT/Japan. PSTEP aims to develop a synergistic interaction between predictive and scientific studies of the solar-terrestrial environment and to establish the basis for next-generation space weather forecasting using state-of-the-art observation systems and advanced physics-based models. Under this wide range of domestic and international cooperation, we hope to significantly contribute to both science and society by exploring the future of the solar-terrestrial environment. We acknowledge all of your cooperation and support.