Ames Hopes To Get A Chance To Help Dig Up Moon

Nov 22, 2005

NASA has announced that it is assigning management of its Robotic Lunar Exploration Program to NASA Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley.

Returning astronauts to the moon will start with robotic missions between 2008 and 2011 to study, map and learn about the lunar surface. These early missions will help determine lunar landing sites and whether resources, such as oxygen, hydrogen and metals, are available for use in NASA's long-term lunar exploration objectives. The assignment marks a rebirth of robotic space flight work at NASA Ames, which has a history of spearheading unmanned space launches.

"The Robotic Lunar Exploration Program is a critical element of NASA's Vision for Space Exploration," said Exploration Systems Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Dr. Scott Horowitz. "Data collected will help determine where we go, and what we find during our first human missions to the lunar surface."

"Ames is delighted to be the home of the new Robotic Lunar Exploration Program," said G. Scott Hubbard, Ames' director. "Our center has a 40-year history of excellent space flight programs and project management: the Pioneer 6-13 series, the Galileo Probe and Lunar Prospector, as well as a lunar magnetic field instrument for four Apollo missions starting with Apollo 12 in 1969. We will apply all this experience to make RLEP successful," Hubbard noted.

Launched on Jan. 6, 1998, from Cape Canaveral Air Station, Fla., Lunar Prospector reached the moon in four days. The mission was the last NASA voyage to our nearest neighbor in space.

The spacecraft orbited the moon and gathered data that resulted in evidence that water ice exists in shadowed craters near the lunar south and north poles, the first precise gravity map of the entire lunar surface, confirmation of the presence of local magnetic fields that create the two smallest magnetospheres in the solar system and the first global maps of the moon's elemental composition.

Returning robots, and then astronauts, to the moon provides opportunities to develop and mature technologies needed for long-term survival on other worlds, according to scientists.

"An exploration science program with a sustained human presence on the moon gives us the opportunity to conduct fundamental science in lunar geology, history of the solar system, physics and the biological response to partial (Earth) gravity," said Christopher McKay, lunar exploration program scientist at Ames.

"Establishing research stations on the moon will give us the experience and capabilities to extend to Mars and beyond," robotics deputy program manager Butler Hine of Ames noted.

Copyright 2005 by Space Daily, Distributed United Press International

Explore further: CAT scan of nearby supernova remnant reveals frothy interior

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Stepping stones to NASA's human missions beyond

Jan 21, 2015

"That's one small step for (a) man; one giant leap for mankind." When Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon, many strides came before to achieve that moment in history. The same is true for a human ...

UA-led HiRISE camera spots long-lost space probe on Mars

Jan 16, 2015

The UK-led Beagle 2 Mars Lander, thought lost on Mars since 2003, has been found partially deployed on the surface of the planet, ending the mystery of what happened to the mission more than a decade ago. ...

Lessons learned from Orion's first test flight

Dec 10, 2014

With the successful flight test of NASA's Orion spacecraft on Dec. 5, a new space era for has started for America and its aerospace industry. Companies engaged in space exploration like Lockheed Martin, which ...

NASA launches new Orion spacecraft and new era

Dec 05, 2014

(AP)—NASA's new Orion spacecraft zoomed toward a high point of 3,600 miles (5,800 kilometers) on an orbital test flight Friday, ushering in a new era of exploration that could one day put people on Mars.

NASA: 'There's your new spacecraft, America!"

Dec 05, 2014

(AP)—NASA's newest space vehicle, Orion, accomplished its first test flight with precision and pizazz Friday, shooting more than 3,600 miles (5,800 kilometers) out from Earth for a hyperfast, hot return ...

Recommended for you

The tell-tale signs of a galactic merger

13 hours ago

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured this striking view of spiral galaxy NGC 7714. This galaxy has drifted too close to another nearby galaxy and the dramatic interaction has twisted its spiral ...

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.