The request for the petition is aimed at garnering support from the international research community to continue the progression of the Galileo Solar Space Telescope Mission (GSST) within the Brazilian Space Agency's (AEB) Procedure for Selection and Adoption of Space Missions (ProSAME). The petition arises in response to an unexpected decision by the INPE's Director, which hindered the GSST Mission's progress within the AEB's workflow. Through this petition, the organizers hope to express that the Director's decision lacked a sound scientific and technical basis, reaffirm the significance of the GSST Mission for solar physics, and urge that the GSST Mission continues within the planned ProSAME workflow. The gathered support will be directed towards key Brazilian governmental and space agency officials to reconsider and allow the GSST Mission to proceed as initially planned.
Last year, the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) introduced a new procedure for the selection and adoption of space missions. AEB uses this systematic approach to define and select space missions within the Brazilian National Space Activities Program (PNAE) 2022-2031 framework. Proposals go through several phases, starting with the Admission Phase, where initial proposals are aggregated and assessed for technical feasibility and adherence to PNAE 2022-2031. The list of missions in the Admission Phase can be found here: https://observatorio.aeb.gov.br/prosame/carteira-de-admissao. Note that the GSST Mission is already listed and waiting for the homologation. The missions marked with a green bullet have already been approved for the next phase.
Once approved, they move to the Qualification Phase for further analyses and studies. After qualification, proposals enter the Certification Phase, where resource availability and adherence to planning instruments are evaluated. Official adoption and budget allocation by AEB occur only after the satisfactory conclusion of feasibility studies, and the mission is then inserted into the Execution Phase, with AEB committing to its delivery.
On May 19, 2023, the documents were submitted to the Head of the Division of Heliophysics, Planetary Sciences, and Aeronomy. The documents followed INPE's internal flow to INPE's Director. On September 21, 2023, INPE's Director sent an official letter (attached) to the President of the Brazilian Space Agency, Marco Antonio Chamon, forwarding for AEB's consideration the proposal for the GSST Mission. However, he included a sentence that effectively blocked the proposal from progressing in AEB's flow and the funding for development for several years. He stated: "... having this telescope operated satisfactorily at the Pico dos Dias Observatory for a period not less than 2 (two) uninterrupted years, only then, I kindly ask to consider the adoption of this mission for the portfolio of missions of this Brazilian Space Agency." See the document.
INPE's Director was referring to the proof-of-concept spectropolarimeter that the GSST working group developed and is installing in a ground observatory nearby, operated by the National Astrophysics Laboratory (LNA). It is important to emphasize that the GSST working group is fully committed to installing the ground-based observatory and ensuring that the telescope will work as planned. LNA's administration has already guaranteed the funding to build the infrastructure needed, which will be operational by the end of next year.
There's no need to explain that the operational conditions of a ground-based instrument for observations in the visible are entirely different from operations in space in visible and ultraviolet. The space observatory would also carry instruments to measure solar irradiance and in situ instruments for plasma and magnetic field observations. So, his requirements are complete nonsense.
In summary, The Galileo Solar Space Telescope (GSST) is a spacecraft mission to provide accurate measurements of the magnetic field and its evolution from the solar surface through the outer layers of the solar atmosphere as part of the international efforts to understand the evolution of the heliosphere and its influences on the Earth.
The international research community is asked to manifest its support to the GSST Mission.
The objectives of this manifestation of the community are threefold:
• To express that the decision of the INPE's Director lacked a sound scientific and technical basis.
• To confirm the relevance of GSST for solar physics, and,
• To request that The GSST Mission follow the ProSAME workflow as planned.
The manifestations from the community will be handed to the Brazilian State Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Mrs. Luciana Santos, and the President of the Brazilian Space Agency, Marco Antonio Chamon.
The importance of this petition stems from multiple factors centered around the advancement of scientific understanding and the adherence to procedural fairness within the Brazilian Space Agency's (AEB) mission selection process:
- Scientific Advancement: The Galileo Solar Space Telescope Mission (GSST) is envisioned to provide precise measurements of the solar magnetic field and its evolution, contributing to the broader understanding of the heliosphere and its effects on Earth. By hindering the progression of this mission, there's a potential delay or loss in gaining critical insights that could benefit both the scientific community and broader society.
- Procedural Fairness: The abrupt halt of the GSST Mission by the INPE's Director, without consulting the concerned division or any advisory committee, may set a concerning precedent. This petition seeks to uphold the integrity and transparency of the AEB's Procedure for Selection and Adoption of Space Missions (ProSAME) by ensuring that the GSST Mission is evaluated fairly and consistently, according to established procedures.
- International Collaboration: The petition mentions reaching out to potential international partners for collaboration. Ensuring the GSST Mission's continuation could foster international scientific cooperation, enhancing Brazil's standing in the global scientific community, and potentially unlocking additional resources and expertise.
- Resource Optimization: Significant time, effort, and resources have already been invested in developing the GSST proposal and navigating it through the initial phases of the AEB's ProSAME workflow. The petition aims to ensure that these investments are not rendered futile and that the mission has a fair chance to proceed to the subsequent phases of evaluation and potential implementation.
- Policy Accountability: By rallying the support of the international research community, this petition also seeks to promote accountability within policy and decision-making circles concerning space missions, ensuring that decisions are made based on scientific merit and procedural correctness rather than arbitrary or unjustified criteria.
Please share the link to this petition and encourage colleagues to sign it as well.
If you have questions or are unsure, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Luis Eduardo Antunes Vieira
Division of Heliophysics, Planetary Sciences, and Aeronomy (DIHPA)
National Institute for Space Research (INPE)
Av. dos Astronautas, 1758 - Jd da Granja - CEP 12227-010
São José dos Campos - SP - Brazil