NASA Selects Astrophysics Projects for New Science on the Moon

Aug 06, 2007

NASA has selected four proposals focusing on astrophysics priorities in lunar science to facilitate the nation's exploration program. The proposed studies are part of a NASA effort to develop new opportunities to conduct important science investigations during the planned renewal of human exploration of the moon.

The newly-announced proposals for concept studies may lead to experiments placed on the moon that would allow for unprecedented tests of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, instruments to probe the early evolution of structure in the universe, and observation of X-rays produced by the charged particles the sun emits, known as the solar wind. Instruments based on these concept studies also would provide unique information on the interior structure of the moon and on Earth-moon interactions.

"We're very excited by the proposals the scientific community sent us to advance lunar science through astrophysics," said Alan Stern, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. "The moon figures prominently in NASA's exploration goals, and these projects each give us a way to expand our knowledge of the moon and our universe on a greater scale."

Two concept studies propose to place suitcase-sized instruments at various locations on the moon so the distance from the Earth to the moon can be determined to the submillimeter level. These observations will yield a wealth of science, including precision tests of general relativity and greater understanding of the structure of the moon and Earth-moon interactions. The proposals are:

-- "A Lunar Laser Ranging Array for the 21st Century" from the University of Maryland at College Park. Douglas Currie is Principal Investigator.

-- "Precision Lunar Laser Ranging" from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Stephen Merkowitz is Principal Investigator.

A third concept study proposes to place a small radio telescope array on the moon to study particle acceleration in celestial objects such as supernovae, quasars and the solar corona. It also will serve as a pathfinder for a future possible radio telescope to measure the growth of structure in the early universe. The study is "Radio Observatory for Lunar Sortie Science" from the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington. Joseph Lazio is Principal Investigator.

The fourth project will measure X-ray emissions caused by the solar wind and its interactions with Earth's magnetosphere. It also will help improve future measurements of low-energy X-ray emission from our galaxy. "Lunar-Based Soft X-ray Science" is the study from Goddard. Michael Collier is Principal Investigator.

Source: NASA

Explore further: Why don't we search for different life?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Why can't we design the perfect spacesuit?

Feb 19, 2015

So far, every spacesuit humans have utilized has been designed with a specific mission and purpose in mind. As of yet, there's been no universal or "perfect" spacesuit that would fit every need. For example, ...

Exploring the universe with nuclear power

Feb 02, 2015

In the past four decades, NASA and other space agencies from around the world have accomplished some amazing feats. Together, they have sent manned missions to the Moon, explored Mars, mapped Venus and Mercury, ...

China reveals designs for Mars rover mission

Nov 14, 2014

For many space-faring nations, ambitions for Mars run broad and deep. Now, add China to the list of countries with Mars in their sights. News reports from China disclosed that country is considering a future ...

Video: 3D-printing a lunar base

Nov 07, 2014

Could astronauts one day be printing rather than building a base on the Moon? In 2013 ESA, working with industrial partners, proved that 3D printing using lunar material was feasible in principle. Since then, work continues ...

Living off the land in the final frontier

Nov 05, 2014

Safely sending human explorers to and from Mars will be the challenge of a generation. We don't yet know what clues astronauts will uncover in the Martian soil or atmosphere that reveal new knowledge about ...

Recommended for you

Why don't we search for different life?

2 hours ago

If we really want to find life on other worlds, why do we keep looking for life based on carbon and water? Why don't we look for the stuff that's really different?

OSIRIS catches glimpse of Rosetta's shadow

2 hours ago

Several days after Rosetta's close flyby of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 14 February 2015, images taken on this day by OSIRIS, the scientific imaging system on board, have now been downlinked to Earth. ...

Kamikaze comet loses its head

3 hours ago

Like coins, most comet have both heads and tails. Occasionally, during a close passage of the Sun, a comet's head will be greatly diminished yet still retain a classic cometary outline. Rarely are we left ...

NASA spacecraft nears historic dwarf planet arrival

21 hours ago

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has returned new images captured on approach to its historic orbit insertion at the dwarf planet Ceres. Dawn will be the first mission to successfully visit a dwarf planet when it enters ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.