(NASA press release 4-11-08)
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. — Thirty-eight years ago, NASA launched the Apollo 13 mission to the moon. Today, NASA launches the new Lunar Science Institute to lead the agency’s research activities for future missions to the moon related to NASA’s exploration goals.
Managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., the NASA Lunar Science Institute is modeled after the successful NASA Astrobiology Institute, also managed by Ames, and features teams of scientists across the country collaborating in lunar science and future lunar exploration.
“This is an exciting day for NASA as we unveil our new Lunar Science Institute,” said Ames Research Center Director S. Pete Worden. “This dynamic virtual institute is now the center for lunar science, not only for the United States, but also for the world and will bring together some of the best and brightest scientists to help lead NASA’s future missions to the moon.”
The new institute is supported by the NASA Science Mission Directorate and the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters and will be funded by the Lunar Science Project.
Initially, NASA will select four or five research teams for grants of $1 million to $2 million each for four year terms. By the end of this year, NASA officials say as many as 50 scientists could be working in collaboration with the new institute.
“In addition to basic lunar science, these new research teams will be conducting investigations in biology, astronomy, solar and Earth science that could be performed on the moon,” said David Morrison, interim director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute. “Teams will focus on one or more aspects of lunar science, including investigations of the moon, from the moon and on the moon.”
For the investigations of the moon, scientists will study the nature and history of the moon, including research on lunar samples, to learn about the moon and gain insights into the evolution of the solar system.
Research teams focused on science to be conducted on the moon will study the lunar environment of terrestrial life and the equipment needed to support lunar habitats.
Scientists conducting investigations from the moon will learn how to use the moon as a platform for performing scientific investigations. They will also consider how observations of the Earth and other celestial phenomena can be accomplished from the lunar surface.
A national search for a director of the new institute is underway. Since it will be a virtual institute, most of the research will be conducted elsewhere, including other NASA centers, universities and non-profit research groups, throughout the nation and around the world.
For information about the NASA Lunar Science Institute, visit: http://lunarscience.arc.nasa.gov/