Campaign for space weather science

February 7, 2008

A deal to save solar terrestrial physics, the branch of science that studies "space weather", could be on the cards, according to one of Parliament's leading science campaigners.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council announced at the end of last year that it was to axe the ground-based component of the subject as part of cuts to physics and astronomy.

But Phil Willis MP, the Liberal Democrat chair of the Innovation, Universities and Skills Select Committee, has floated the possibility of the Natural Environment Research Council taking over funding of the research.

Mr Willis said he had approached the NERC's chief executive, Alan Thorpe, to see whether the NERC would be prepared to take on the community within NERC's remit on environmental earth observation. "He indicated he would - in principle - and certainly Keith Mason (chief executive of the STFC) has also indicated in principle that he would be happy for this to happen," Mr Willis said.

"It really is a matter of negotiation."

But a spokeswoman for the NERC said: "There is no deal being negotiated with NERC."

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