Feeds

Scientists ponder future Moon mission activities

One of these days, Alice...

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

A clever fellow once observed that the Moon is a harsh mistress. Humanity's subsequent jaunts up to the place indicated it was a pretty solid hypothesis. The Ritz-Carlton it is not.

Now NASA has the vision of not only returning astronauts back to the orbital dustball in 2020, but establishing a long-term moon base there. Needless to say, there's plenty of arrangements to be made before the moonbuggy pulls into 555 South Pole-Aitken Basin Avenue.

That's why nearly 500 scientists and amateur lunar lovers from gave gathered for an Earth-side conference this week at NASA/Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. The first annual Lunar Science Conference aims to discuss what kind of science should be done for our species' return to the moon.

"This is going to open a new era of scientific understanding," said NASA/AMES Director Simon 'Pete' Worden at the conference opening. "We will learn how we can live on another world."

The conference is organized by the NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI), a fledgling NASA-funded organization made to supplement and extend existing lunar science programs.

NLSI is modeled on the successful NASA Astrobiology Institute, meaning it's a partnership between the US space department and other independent research organizations across the nation working together to help lead research activities.

The institute plans to initially fund about seven competitively selected team investigations in October that will focus on one or more aspects of lunar science. According to Dave Morrison, NLSI interim director, the teams will initially receive between $1m to $2m budgets per year.

"NASA doesn't guarantee funding," warned Morrison. "But we anticipate the same level for four years."

The organization will specialize in utilizing data rather than building the instruments to probe the moon. "We are going to focus on research and the training aspect," said Morrison. It also plans to be the rallying banner for public interest in future moon missions.

While scientists get excited over things like extraterrestrial botanics, applications of lunar dust, and protecting humanity from meteor impacts this week, it's also a celebration of the 39th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon.

"We're going back, and this time we're going to stay," said Worden. "This will begin the next step of settling the solar system." ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Beancounters tell NASA it's too poor to fly planned mega-rocket
Space Launch System would need another $400m and a lot of time
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.