All current understanding (theoretical and observational) suggests that the development of the solar wind and CMEs takes place within 10 Rs, particularly below 4 Rs. This seemingly narrow spatial region encompasses the transition of coronal plasma processes through the entire range of physical regimes from fluid to kinetic, and from primarily closed magnetic field structures to primarily open. For these reasons, we refer to it as the Critical Coronal Transition Region (CCTR). Its comprehensive exploration will answer two of the most central Heliophysics questions with repercussions across NASA and society. Here, we outline a path to answer these questions in the next 30 years.
We propose a ‘system-of-systems’—an integrated web of SpWx stations and state-of-the-art modeling facilities to enable a transformative advance in Space Weather nowcasting and forecasting. The Space Weather Aggregated Network of Systems (SWANS) will enable space situational awareness for end-users invested in spaceflight operations, infrastructure risk mitigation, and future human endeavors in space exploration while profoundly transforming Heliophysics research by 2050 or earlier.