The Scientific Context for Exploration of the Moon—Interim Report
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
This study is based on work supported by the Contract NASW-010001 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the agency that provided support for the project.
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Other Reports of the Space Studies Board
An Assessment of Balance in NASA’s Science Programs (2006)
Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Venus Missions: Letter Report (2006)
Distributed Arrays of Small Instruments for Solar-Terrestrial Research: Report of a Workshop (2006)
Issues Affecting the Future of the U.S. Space Science and Engineering Workforce (SSB with the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board [ASEB], 2006)
The Astrophysical Context of Life (SSB with the Board on Life Sciences, 2005)
Earth Science and Applications from Space: Urgent Needs and Opportunities to Serve the Nation (2005)
Extending the Effective Lifetimes of Earth Observing Research Missions (2005)
Preventing the Forward Contamination of Mars (2005)
Principal-Investigator-Led Missions in the Space Sciences (2005)
Priorities in Space Science Enabled by Nuclear Power and Propulsion (SSB with ASEB, 2005)
Review of Goals and Plans for NASA’s Space and Earth Sciences (2005)
Review of NASA Plans for the International Space Station (2005)
Science in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration (2005)
Assessment of Options for Extending the Life of the Hubble Space Telescope: Final Report (SSB with ASEB, 2004)
Exploration of the Outer Heliosphere and the Local Interstellar Medium: A Workshop Report (2004)
Issues and Opportunities Regarding the U.S. Space Program: A Summary Report of a Workshop on National Space Policy (SSB with ASEB, 2004)
Plasma Physics of the Local Cosmos (2004)
Review of Science Requirements for the Terrestrial Planet Finder: Letter Report (2004)
Solar and Space Physics and Its Role in Space Exploration (2004)
Understanding the Sun and Solar System Plasmas: Future Directions in Solar and Space Physics (2004)
Utilization of Operational Environmental Satellite Data: Ensuring Readiness for 2010 and Beyond (SSB with ASEB and the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate [BASC], 2004)
Satellite Observations of the Earth’s Environment: Accelerating the Transition of Research to Operations (SSB with ASEB and BASC, 2003)
Steps to Facilitate Principal-Investigator-Led Earth Science Missions (2003)
The Sun to the Earthand Beyond: Panel Reports (2003)
Assessment of Directions in Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA (2002)
New Frontiers in the Solar System: An Integrated Exploration Strategy (2002)
The Sun to the Earthand Beyond: A Decadal Research Strategy in Solar and Space Physics (2002)
Limited copies of these reports are available free of charge from:
Space Studies Board
National Research Council
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500 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20001
NOTE: Listed according to year of approval for release, which in some cases precedes the year of publication.
COMMITTEE ON THE SCIENTIFIC CONTEXT FOR EXPLORATION OF THE MOON
GEORGE A. PAULIKAS,
The Aerospace Corporation (ret.),
CARLÉ M. PIETERS,
WILLIAM B. BANERDT,
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Science Journalist, Arlington, Vermont
BARBARA A. COHEN,
University of New Mexico
Colorado School of Mines
ANTHONY W. ENGLAND,2
University of Michigan
University of Münster
NOEL W. HINNERS,
Lockheed Martin Astronautics (ret.)
AYANNA M. HOWARD,
Georgia Institute of Technology
DAVID J. LAWRENCE,
Los Alamos National Laboratory
PAUL G. LUCEY,
University of Hawaii
S. ALAN STERN,
Southwest Research Institute
Science Applications International Corporation
NEVILLE J. WOOLF,
University of Arizona
ROBERT L. RIEMER, Study Director
DAVID H. SMITH, Senior Staff Officer
RODNEY N. HOWARD, Senior Project Assistant
CATHERINE A. GRUBER, Assistant Editor
STEPHANIE BEDNAREK, Research Assistant
SPACE STUDIES BOARD
LENNARD A. FISK,
University of Michigan,
A. THOMAS YOUNG,
Lockheed Martin Corporation (retired),
SPIRO K. ANTIOCHOS,
Naval Research Laboratory
DANIEL N. BAKER,
University of Colorado
STEVEN J. BATTEL,
CHARLES L. BENNETT,
Johns Hopkins University
JUDITH A. CURRY,
Georgia Institute of Technology
JACK D. FARMER,
Arizona State University
JACK D. FELLOWS,
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
JACQUELINE N. HEWITT,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
TAMARA E. JERNIGAN,
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
University of Hawaii
DEBRA S. KNOPMAN,
BERRIEN MOORE III,
University of New Hampshire
KENNETH H. NEALSON,
University of Southern California
NORMAN P. NEUREITER,
American Association for the Advancement of Science
University of Alabama, Birmingham
Pennsylvania State University
RONALD F. PROBSTEIN,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
HARVEY D. TANANBAUM,
Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
RICHARD H. TRULY,
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (retired)
JOSEPH F. VEVERKA,
WARREN M. WASHINGTON,
National Center for Atmospheric Research
GARY P. ZANK,
University of California, Riverside
MARCIA S. SMITH, Director
As an initial part of the newly established Vision for Space Exploration, NASA is aggressively defining and implementing a series of robotic orbital and landed missions to the Moon, through the Lunar Precursor and Robotic Program (LPRP) of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD). The LPRP is intended to obtain essential supporting data for robotic and human landings planned for 2018 and shortly thereafter. The first LPRP mission, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, is already in implementation and scheduled for a 2008 launch. A second mission, a lander, is in pre-formulation. The LPRP program office is currently developing an overall LPRP program architecture. In order to realize this benefit from the LPRP series, NASA needs a comprehensive, well-validated, and prioritized set of scientific research objectives for the Moon. The purpose of this interim report is to provide scientific input to NASA’s planning process, with a full report to follow in summer 2007.
Looking beyond the robotic precursor missions, science goals need to be articulated for early decisions about system design and operations planning for combined robotic and human activities on the Moon. For a longer-range human presence on the Moon, the scope of science is potentially broader, possibly including emplacement or assembly and maintenance and operation of major equipment on the lunar surface. After a multi-decade hiatus in major lunar science and exploration activities, the first decade of the 21st century will be marked by a major resurgence in lunar missions and high potential for scientific return.
This study was initiated at the request of Mary Cleave, NASA’s associate administrator for science, to Lennard Fisk, chair of the Space Studies Board (SSB), in a letter dated March 13, 2006, asking the National Research Council (NRC) to provide guidance on the scientific challenges and opportunities enabled by a sustained program of robotic and human exploration of the Moon during the period 2008-2023+. A revised letter of request was received on June 5, 2006.
In response to this request, the NRC established the Committee on the Scientific Context for Exploration of the Moon. The committee met at the National Academies’ Keck Center, Washington, D.C., on June 20-22, 2006, and at the Beckman Center, Irvine, California, August 2-4, 2006, and heard presentations from the following NASA staff, university researchers, and other experts: James Head III, Brown University; Paul Hertz, NASA Science Mission Directorate; Butler Hine, NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate; Noel Hinners, Lockheed Martin (retired); Ayanna Howard, Georgia Institute of Technology; Brad Jolliff, Washington University at St. Louis; Gary Lofgren, NASA Johnson Space Center; Clive R. Neal, University of Notre Dame; Charles Shearer, University of New Mexico; Paul Spudis, Johns Hopkins University; G. Jeffrey Taylor, University of Hawaii; and S. Ross Taylor, Australian National University.
The committee also held several teleconference calls and communicated extensively via e-mail among its members while also soliciting input from colleagues selected for their expertise in the various scientific disciplines relevant to the study of the Moon and/or the development and operation of spaceflight instrumentation and robotic spacecraft. In addition, committee members consulted related reports issued by the SSB, some with other boards (listed in the Bibliography).
THE INTERIM REPORT
This interim report was requested by NASA and prepared by the committee. To meet the ambitious schedule set for the interim report, the committee decided to present more detailed and
additional material in its full report. The interim report provides a summary of scientific themes evaluated by the committee and related findings and recommendations concerning a broad range of science that should be an integral part of the lunar component of NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration. Intended to meet the near-term needs for science guidance for the lunar component of the Vision, the interim report deliberately focuses on the science of the Moon. Issues relating to science from the Moon, as well as a summary of the current state of understanding of the Moon, will be presented and discussed more completely in the full report.
The primary goals of the interim report are to:
Identify a common set of prioritized basic science goals that could be addressed in the near-term via the Lunar Precursor and Robotic Program (LPRP) of orbital and landed robotic lunar missions (2008-2018) and in the early phase of human lunar exploration (nominally beginning in 2018); and
To the extent possible, suggest whether individual goals are most amenable to orbital measurements, in situ analysis or instrumentation, or terrestrial analysis via sample return.
The science scope of study goals 1 and 2 encompasses:
The history of the Moon and of the Earth-Moon system;
Implications for the origin and evolution of the solar system generally, including the Sun; and
Implications of all of these for the origin and evolution of life on Earth and possibly elsewhere in the solar system.
Secondary goals to be considered (see Appendix A) during the course of the study will be addressed in the committee’s full report.
In this interim report the committee develops a number of scientific themes describing scientific issues and broad scientific goals as well as ancillary themes that it judges to be of importance in a comprehensive program of lunar research. Included in these descriptions of the scientific themes are discussions of how best to carry out the measurements and other actions required to reach these broad goals. Specific scientific goals, derived from the themes identified by the committee, are then separated into three priority areas that follow from the themes. Findings and recommendations are then derived from these integrated science priority areas. Findings and recommendations for related areas are also summarized.
The views expressed in this report were stimulated and expanded from findings and recommendations presented in previous SSB reports. In particular, the 2003 decadal study, New Frontiers in the Solar System, outlined lunar science priorities in the context of the future exploration of the solar system. In addition, the committee asked for and received white papers and consulted widely with colleagues and other experts from the lunar science community. As part of its deliberations, the committee examined the history of lunar science and considered new scientific developments that have occurred since the Apollo 17 lunar mission.
The draft interim report was completed in mid-August 2006 and was sent to external reviewers for commentary. A new draft responding to the reviewers’ comments was completed in early September, and the prepublication version was approved on September 13 for release. The full report is planned for release in mid-2007.
The work of the committee was made easier thanks to the important help, advice, and comments provided by numerous individuals from a variety of public and private organizations. In addition to the speakers listed above, the following individuals and groups provided useful input to the committee: David Beaty, Paul Schenker, and Edward W. Tunstel, Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Donald Bogard,
Friedrich Horz, John Jones, and Sarah Noble, NASA Johnson Space Center; Jack Burns, Curation and Analysis Planning Team for Extraterrestrial Materials (CAPTEM); Ian A. Crawford, Birkbeck College, United Kingdom; Lisa Gaddis, U.S. Geological Survey, Flagstaff; Rick Halbach, Lockheed Martin Corporation; Lon Hood, University of Arizona; Dan Lester, University of Texas; Jonathan Levine, University of Chicago; Moon-Mars Science Linkages Science Steering Group of MEPAG (MMSL-SSG); Clive R. Neal, University of Notre Dame; Harrison H. Schmitt, NASA Advisory Council; Charles Shearer, University of New Mexico; Norman Sleep, Stanford University; John Stevens, Lockheed Martin Corporation; Timothy Swindle, University of Arizona; and Lawrence Taylor, University of Tennessee. Also, Bruce Jakosky, Ariel Anbar, Jeffrey Taylor, and Paul Lucey for their paper on astrobiology; Clive R. Neal, Lon Hood, Shaopeng Huang, and Yosio Nakamura for their white paper “Scientific Rationale for Deployment of a Long Lived Geophysical Network on the Moon”; Timothy Stubbs, Richard Vondrak, and William Farrel for “A Dynamic Fountain Model for Lunar Dust”; and contributors too numerous to list in a Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) report on lunar science.
The committee also thanks SSB research assistant Stephanie Bednarek for her valuable assistance in assembling the draft of the interim report and assisting at the committee’s meetings.
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the authors and the NRC in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
The committee wishes to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Ariel D. Anbar, Arizona State University; Radford Byerly, Jr., University of Colorado; Robert N. Clayton, University of Chicago, Boulder; Pascale Ehrenfreund, University of Leiden; Robert P. Lin, University of California, Berkeley; Mario Livio, Johns Hopkins University; Lawrence A. Taylor, University of Tennessee; Richard H. Truly, Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy (ret.); and Mark Wieczorek, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Bernard F. Burke, William A.M. Burden Professor of Astrophysics, Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Appointed by the NRC, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.