The goal of our DRIVE Science Center (DSC) is to develop a predictive global model for the heliosphere, called SHIELD (Solar wind with Hydrogen Ion charge Exchange and Large-Scale Dynamics). The heliosphere is an immense shield that protects the solar system from harsh galactic radiation. This radiation affects both life on Earth and human space exploration. The heliosphere is a window into processes occurring in all other astrospheres. Understanding these processes enables predictions about the astrospheric conditions necessary to create habitable planets. Another important aspect of SHIELD is that we proposed to develop a multi-faceted outreach program to train, recruit and retain under-represented populations in space plasma and in related fields of electrical and computer engineering.

The Center is headquartered at Boston University. Prof. Merav Opher is the PI and the Center Director. SHIELD is a multi-institutional effort with co-Is from MIT, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, Applied Physics Lab, NASA Goddard, Princeton University, Caltech, SwRI, University of Arizona, University of Alabama, Academy of Athens, and collaborators from Harvard, Princeton University and University of Michigan.

DRIVE Science Centers (DSCs) are part of an integrated multi-agency initiative from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) , DRIVE (Diversify, Realize, Integrate, Venture, Educate), put forward as a high priority recommendation of the 2013-2022 Solar and Space Physics Decadal Survey. DSCs, address grand challenge goals that will deliver innovative and breakthrough science.