Space Research Under the Auspices of The National Aeronautics And Space Administration and The Office of Naval Research

Our early satellite work was done under the auspices of the IGY/National Science Foundation program, the Office of Naval Research, the Army Ballistic Missile Agency, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Air Force.

The creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as a new, civilian agency of the federal government was formalized by President Eisenhower's signature on the enabling legislation on 10 October 1958. As NASA got itself organized, it moved toward becoming the central national agency for the planning and support of space science and applications. Nonetheless, a substantial effort in these areas continued under the auspices of the military departments of the Department of Defense, our principal relationship therein being with the Office of Naval Research.

The creation of NASA led to a dramatic change in space research in the United States. Whereas previously it had been performed by only a small cadre of individuals who might be well described as members of the UARRP and their immediate associates principally in military and quasi-military laboratories, it then assumed national scope and became "civilianized". In anticipation of the NASA legislation, the National Academy of Sciences established the Space Science Board in the early summer of 1958 to advise the federal government on the conduct of scientific research in space. This board was chaired during its important and most influential period by Lloyd Berkner. I was an original member of the SSB and served as such from 1958 to 1970 and again from 1980 to 1983. A major planning study was conducted under my chairmanship during a two-month period in the summer of 1962 at the University of Iowa. This study yielded a classical document and became the prototype for subsequent summer studies by the SSB. Space science in the United States benefited greatly from the close relationship and mutual respect between Berkner and James Webb, the second administrator of NASA and an especially effective one during the period of great growth of the agency. Indeed, members of the SSB had the heady, but only partially true, perception that they were writing the national scientific program in space in the form of well considered advice from the interested segment of the scientific community.

Space exploration was transformed from being an arcane field with only a handful of participants to an activity of high national visibility. Members of Congress vied for membership on freshly created space committees. Senator Lyndon B. Johnson and Congressman John W. McCormick led the legislative drive to put the United States in space on a scale adequate to restore national pride and international prestige following what was perceived as national humiliation by the early successes of the Soviet Union, previously thought by most Americans to be a technologically backward nation. The political scene culminated in the hesitant but eventually dramatic decision by President John F. Kennedy to undertake the landing of a man on the moon and his safe return to the earth. His formal public announcement of the Apollo project was made on 25 May 1961. The politics of this decision has been discussed voluminously by many, many others and I have nothing to add.

In parallel with the Apollo project, programs of space science and the numerous practical applications of space technology were also flourishing. These had much less public visibility but in the long run have proven to be of far greater importance and durability.

Our research at Iowa centered on expanding our knowledge of the energetic particle population of the earth's external magnetic field and the multifold physics thereof. In 1959 Thomas Gold suggested the term 'magnetosphere' for the region around the earth in which the geomagnetic field has a controlling influence on the motion of charged particles and the term 'magnetospheric physics' was widely adopted. Magnetosphere joined the already established list of 'spheres' -- atmosphere, ionosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, etc. -- as a geophysical term. At a much earlier date, the presence of thermal and quasi-thermal plasma (ionized gas) in the earth's magnetic field had been established by Owen Storey and others in the interpretation of 'whistlers', a low frequency electromagnetic phenomenon resulting from lightning strokes.

In situ measurements of this plasma became a central objective of magnetospheric physics using earth satellites. Another central objective was the investigation of the physics of the aurorae, geomagnetic storms, and the ring current of the earth. Also space technology opened up new fields of investigation of cosmic rays, energetic particles from the sun, solar x-ray flares, and the detailed nature of the interplanetary medium.

The Iowa group has an important role in these developments. Louis Frank made a marked advance in the plasma physics of the magnetosphere by developing and flying, first on the NASA/Orbiting Geophysical Observatory II in 1965, a low energy proton electron differential energy analyzer (LEPEDEA) which was sensitive to particles having energies as low as 1 keV.

With the support of the Office of Naval Research and later of NASA we developed and built complete satellites with full complements of scientific instrumentation, thus becoming the first university to succeed in this comprehensive undertaking. Indeed, at one point in time, we had built and flown more satellites than the combined number built by all foreign nations, excepting the Soviet Union. The Injun series of Iowa satellites comprised Injun I (launched 29 June 1961), Injun II (not placed in orbit because of a launch vehicle failure on 24 January 1962), Injun III (launched 12 December 1962), Injun IV (launched 21 November 1964), and Injun V (launched 8 August 1968). These were placed in low altitude, high inclination orbits and had investigation of the aurorae as one of their primary objectives. A notable advance was made by Donald Gurnett in devising and successfully flying a VLF (very low frequency) radio receiver on Injun III. A large variety of plasma/wave phenomena were observed and this new field of investigation began to assume an important role in magnetospheric physics.

We also provided, under increasingly competitive circumstances, instruments as part of the scientific payload of NASA spacecraft: OGO I, II, III, and IV; Explorers VII, XII, and XIV; and IMP's (Interplanetary Monitoring Platforms) -D, -E, and -F (Explorers 33, 35, and 34). IMP-D was placed into a very eccentric orbit of the earth with apogee beyond the moon's orbit and IMP-E was injected into a durable orbit around the moon. Both of these spacecraft were exceedingly fruitful in studying solar x rays and solar energetic particles and in exploring the outer fringes of the magnetosphere, especially the magnetotail which had been discovered by other groups using Explorer VI and studied further by us and others with Explorer XII and Explorer XIV in very eccentric orbits.

The latest of the University of Iowa's small satellites is Hawkeye I, which was placed in an eccentric, 90° inclination orbit in 1974 and continued to operate properly until its reentry into the atmosphere nearly four years later. It yielded important results on the configuration of the bow shock and magnetopause and the topology of the geomagnetic field at large radial distances over the northern polar cap and in the vicinity of the polar cusp -- a special feature of central importance in the entry of solar plasma into the magnetosphere.