NASA and its partners in academia, industry, and the international community are examining options for a new era of robotic and potentially human exploration of the lunar surface. That effort began when the agency asked the National Research Council (NRC) to develop a set of science priorities for this lunar exploration initiative. Those recommendations are summarized in The Scientific Context for Exploration of the Moon.
To help integrate those science priorities with NASA's exploration program, the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) has been hosting a special summer intern program to evaluate possible landing sites for robotic and human exploration missions. Teams of students have been working with LPI science staff and other collaborators to evaluate the best landing sites to address each of the NRC science priorities. Over a five year period (2008–2012) the teams worked on that task and generated A Global Lunar Landing Site Study to Provide the Scientific Context for Exploration of the Moon.
This summer, students will generate a detailed assessment of one or two high-priority landing sites identified in that report. This study will utilize the latest lunar data (e.g., M3, LOLA, LROC), explore potential traverse routes and stations, and identify hurdles that mission architects will need to address.
This program is open to graduate students in geology, planetary science, and related programs. It is also open to undergraduates with at least 50 semester hours of credit in those fields so that they, too, can participate in lunar exploration activities. The 10-week program runs from May 28, 2013 through August 2, 2013. Selected interns will receive a $5,000 stipend to cover the costs associated with being in Houston for the duration of the program. Additionally, U.S. citizens will receive up to $1,000 in travel expense reimbursement and foreign nationals will receive up to $1,500 in travel expense reimbursement.
The Lunar and Planetary Institute is adjacent to NASA's Johnson Space Center. The Johnson Space Center is home to the human exploration program and the integrated robotic and human systems that are being designed to push exploration beyond low-Earth orbit.
The Lunar Exploration Summer Intern Program is supported by funding from the Lunar and Planetary Institute and the NASA Lunar Science Institute at NASA Ames Research Center.