In order to determine the extent to which a global magnetic field is required for a planet to be habitable at its surface, expertise is required from diverse communities, some of which have diverged from each other over the past several decades. For example, modelers and observers of the terrestrial magnetosphere have limited overlap and interaction with modelers and observers of unmagnetized planets or the giant planets in our solar system. There is relatively limited interaction between any of the above communities and those who study exoplanets, though efforts are increasing to bridge the solar system and exoplanet communities.
We describe a recently-formed NASA Heliophysics DRIVE Science Center selected to answer the central question of this session: “Do Habitable Worlds Require Magnetic Fields”. This Center, named MACH (Magnetic Fields, Atmospheres, and the Connection to Habitability) includes representatives from multiple sub-disciplines in Heliophysics, Planetary Science, and Astrophysics (including exoplanets). Over the next several years the Center will support activities related to analysis of spacecraft observations of planetary plasma interactions, modeling of the interaction of planetary atmospheres and magnetic fields with their space environment, and the construction of a theoretical framework for atmospheric escape and habitability that includes both magnetized and unmagnetized planets. The MACH Center will host a community-wide workshop in May 2021 centered around this topic, and is seeking to grow their interactions with interested scientists from relevant disciplines.