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Fusion research carried out in the United States under the sponsorship of the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (OFES) has made remarkable strides over the years and recently passed several important milestones. For example, weakly burning plasmas with temperatures greatly exceeding those on the surface of the Sun have been created and diagnosed. Significant progress has been made in understanding and controlling instabilities and turbulence in plasma fusion experiments, thereby facilitating improved plasma confinement—remotely controlling turbulence in a 100-million-degree medium is a premier scientific achievement by any measure. Theory and modeling are now able to provide useful insights into instabilities and to guide experiments. Experiments and associated diagnostics are now able to extract enough information about the processes occurring in high-temperature plasmas to guide further developments in theory and modeling. Many of the major experimental and theoretical tools that have been developed are now converging to produce a qualitative change in the program's approach to scientific discovery.
The U.S. program has traditionally been an important source of innovation and discovery for the international fusion energy effort. The goal of understanding at a fundamental level the physical processes governing observed plasma behavior has been a distinguishing feature of the program.