NASA Selects Research Teams for Lunar Science Institute

NASA Lunar Science Institute. Credits: NASA

NASA has selected seven academic and research teams as initial members of the agency's Lunar Science Institute.

The institute supports scientific research to supplement and extend existing NASA lunar science programs in coordination with U.S. space exploration policy. The selection of the members encompasses academic institutions, non-profit research institutes, private companies, NASA centers and other government laboratories. Selections were based on a competitive evaluation process that began with the release of a cooperative agreement notice in June 2008. The next solicitation opportunity for new members will take place in approximately two years.

"We are extremely pleased with the response of the science community and the high quality of proposals received," said David Morrison, the institute's interim director at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. "The institute represents a big step forward in developing a new generation of lunar scientists."

The selected initial member teams are:

- The Moon as Cornerstone to the Terrestrial Planets: The Formative Years; principal investigator Carle Pieters, Brown University in Providence, R.I.

- Scientific and Exploration Potential of the Lunar Poles; principal investigator Ben Bussey, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.

- Impact Processes in the Origin and Evolution of the Moon: New Sample-driven Perspectives; principal investigator David Kring, Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston

- Dynamic Response of the Environment at the Moon; principal investigator William Farrell, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

- Understanding the Formation and Bombardment History of the Moon; principal investigator William Bottke, Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo.

- Lunar University Node for Astrophysics Research: Exploring the Cosmos from the Moon; principal investigator Jack Burns, University of Colorado in Boulder.

- NASA Lunar Science Institute: Colorado Center for Lunar Dust and Atmospheric Studies; principal investigator Mihaly Horanyi, University of Colorado in Boulder

"We look forward to solid contributions from these teams," said Jim Green, director of the Planetary Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "These are some of the key individuals who will be vital to NASA successfully conducting the ambitious activities of returning to the moon with robots and humans."

Teams were selected from 33 proposals. Based and managed at Ames, the lunar facility is a virtual institute, enabling the newly selected members to remain at their home institutions. Partnerships and collaborations among members are highly encouraged and facilitated through a variety of proven networking tools, such as frequent videoconferences.

Opened in April 2008, the facility is modeled after the NASA Astrobiology Institute, also based at Ames. That institute is a virtual facility that has successfully sustained a productive research program for more than a decade. The newly selected Lunar Institute teams, along with the international associate and affiliate teams, have members working together throughout the world.

The institutes are supported by the Science Mission Directorate and Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

For further information on the institute and lunar science visit: