The Section is subdivided into three subsections, corresponding to the three major research areas in which its members are involved: SPA-Solar and Heliospheric Physics (SH), SPA-Magnetospheric Physics (SA), and SPA-Aeronomy (SA). Each subsection is headed by a secretary, whose primary responsibility is to organize that section's program for the AGU's fall and spring meetings.
The activities of the Section are carried out by its committees and are overseen and coordinated by the SPA Executive Committee, which is made up of the Section's elected officers (the president, president-elect, and the three secretaries), the Section committee chairs, and the SPA journal editors.
A key function of the Executive Committee is to ensure that the accomplishments and contributions of deserving SPA Section members are suitably recognized. Each year the Executive Committee selects two Bowie Lecturers to honor achievement in the three major SPA research areas. The SPA Awards and Fellows Committee works with the membership to identify candidates for AGU Fellow and for Union medals and awards and to organize their nomination. In addition, based on the recommendations of the Student Awards Committee, the Section each year presents the Scarf Award for the outstanding dissertation in space physics and aeronomy and an award for the outstanding student paper in the field. (Click here for a list of SPA members who have been elected Fellow and/or have received Union or section awards or medals.)
In addition to their activities within the section, a number of SPA members serve the wider Union membership through their participation in AGU committees. Click here for a list of these individuals and of the committees on which they serve.
The SPA Section was formed in 1968, as one of three new sections created from the AGU's Planetary Sciences and Geomagnetism and Aeronomy Sections. (The other two sections established in the re-organization were the Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism and Planetology Sections.) Known initially as the Solar-Terrestrial Relationships Section, the Section was re-named Solar-Planetary Relationships the following year to reflect more accurately the broader scope of its members' research. It received its present name in 1992.
The Section has roughly 3100 members, accounting for approximately 10% of the total AGU membership. Of these, the largest number (1458) claim Magnetospheric Physics as their primary affiliation. The SH and SA sections have 736 and 965 members, respectively.