NASA Names Team of Scientists to Lunar Institute
January 12, 2009
NASA has selected a team of scientists from the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) and the Johnson Space Center (JSC), both in Houston, as one of seven initial members of the agency's Lunar Science Institute.
The LPI/JSC team will use the latest technology to determine if a storm of bombarding asteroids and comets resurfaced the Earth and Moon 3.5 to 4 billion years ago. It will investigate whether any bombardment may have affected the origin and early evolution of life on Earth.
David Kring, visiting scientist for the Lunar Exploration Initiative at the LPI, will lead the team. Collaborating institutions include The University of Arizona, University of Houston, University of Maryland, University of Notre Dame, Rice University, Southwest Research Institute, and the National Institute of Polar Research. In addition, the team has organized a consortium of 12 universities throughout Texas to provide educational opportunities for their students.
"NASA has created a unique opportunity for our team to integrate lunar science with the human exploration program," said Kring. "Our program will help drive the growth of our nation's technical capabilities, while simultaneously creating paths of opportunity for students interested in cutting-edge space science."
The NASA Lunar Science Institute is a new organization that supplements and extends existing NASA lunar science programs. Supported by the NASA Science Mission Directorate and Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, the NLSI is managed by NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.
NLSI is modeled on the NASA Astrobiology Institute with teams across the nation working together to help lead the agency's research activities related to lunar exploration goals. Team investigations focus on one or more aspects of lunar science.
Most of the LPI/JSC team's work at Johnson will be conducted by the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Directorate. It will be integrated with the Office for Lunar and Planetary Exploration in the Constellation Systems Program Office.
“I am delighted with the opportunity to be part of one the initial member teams of the agency’s Lunar Science Institute,” said Eileen Stansbery, director of Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science at JSC. “The NLSI is a very important initiative for NASA’s future. Our research effort builds on our respective institution’s lunar science capabilities and will provide important input for the Constellation Program.”
LPI is managed by the Universities Space Research Association (USRA), a national, nonprofit consortium of universities chartered in 1969 by the National Academy of Sciences at the request of NASA. USRA operates programs and institutes focused on research and education in most of the disciplines engaged in space-related science and engineering. Institutional membership in USRA now stands at more than 100 member universities.
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Last updated January 21, 2009