The Center for Lunar Science and Exploration will provide an interface between the lunar science and lunar exploration communities. The goal is to develop the architecture, tools, and operational protocols that will create the most efficient and productive lunar surface operations when the Constellation Program returns crew to the Moon.
Tasks involve the development of lunar analogue study sites, the simulations of lunar missions in those study sites, and trade studies that investigate different hardware and operational options. Team members are also involved in the analysis of sample and remote sensing data to better inform landing and operational site selection for future missions.
These activities are being coordinated with the Office of Lunar and Planetary Exploration within the Constellation Systems Program. They are also being coordinated with Lunar Surface Systems within the Constellation Systems Program and the Desert Research and Technology Studies (Desert RATS) program.
In 2009, team members assisted the NASA Desert RATS program (located at JSC, but involving several NASA Centers) with a simulation of a 14-day lunar mission. They also assisted the Ames Research Center with its K-10 robotic precursor simulations. All of those lunar mission simulations were conducted at the Black Point Lava Flow lunar analogue site.
Center for Lunar Science and Exploration activities continue to ramp up in2010. Subsequent results of integrated science and exploration activities will be posted here as they are obtained.
Figure 1a-b: In June 2008, team members tested a Ground Penetrating Radar system on the unpressurized crew rover called Chariot. They also worked with crew to develop and test geologic sample protocols.
Photo Credits: (1a) Essam Heggy, (1b) NASA JSC.
Figure 2a-c: In October 2008, team members joined the D-RATS initiative in simulations of 4 lunar missions at the Black Point Lava Flow in northern Arizona. Tests involved detailed crew traverses and a trade study between the unpressurized crew rover (see Figure 1) and a pressurized crew rover (seen here). Geologic tools were located at the aft of the rover. Crew egressed through suit ports on a platform near the geologic tool storage rack.
Photo Credits: (2a) NASA JSC, (2b-c) David A. Kring.