McNutt, R. (USA), 2019 – 2023*
Wimmer-Schweingruber, R. (Germany), 2016 – 2020 (wimmer – at – physik.uni-kiel.de)
Terms of Reference
The objective of the COSPAR Panel on Interstellar Research (PIR) is to draw upon international expertise in heliospheric research to formulate the scientific hypotheses and required instrumentation for a near-term, dedicated, interstellar precursor mission. Such an Interstellar Probe has been under discussion for almost half a century. In order to understand the nature of our home in space, we must understand the nature of the heliospheric boundary region, and the interactions between the solar wind and the local interstellar medium. With the 40-year old Voyagers nearing the end of their operational lifetimes as their power supplies continue to decay, further progress requires a new initiative. Such a mission should extend our reach past the Voyagers to at least 200 AU from the Sun with modern instrumentation, optimized to build upon our current knowledge base.
The PIR will draw upon recent and ongoing studies of the requisite science and miniaturized instrumentation technologies to lead to an international consensus on approach and implementation of such a near-term mission from the Earth in our scientific journey toward the stars.
Last update of terms of reference 25 March 2019.
* (after officer term) = second and final term in the office indicated