Lunar Exploration ObjectivesVersion 1, released December 2006Astronomy and AstrophysicsPage 2 of 2
IDNumberAstronomy & AstrophysicsmA5
Perform long-durationmeasurements of energetic particles at theMoon's surface to gainunderstanding of nucleosynthesisprocesses in supernovaeand other stellar sites.Perform long duration measurements of energetic phenomena such as cosmic rays andsolar energetic particles. Cosmic rays could bemeasured by large arrays of high-energy cosmicray detectors placed on the lunar surface.Studying the lunar regolith could provideinformation on solar energetic particles.Because the Moon is outside the Earth'smagnetosphere and lacks an atmosphere,energetic solar particles and cosmic rays of allenergies and types reach the lunar surfacewithout attenuation or degradation. Installinglarge detector arrays would enable searches forvery rare cosmic rays, such as the ultra-heavycosmic rays (those in the iron-group to the trans-uranic group). Such searches would inform usof the nucleosynthetic processes that occur insupernovae and other stellar sites.
XAstronomy & AstrophysicsmA6
Search for exotic statesof nuclear matter tounderstand thecomposition of theuniverse.Theordtically predicted to be the stablest formof matter, but never observed, is Strange QuarkMatter. Such matter might exist in the form of "nuggets," produced primordially or fromneutron stars. These would have large nucleardensities and be capable of passing through theMoon, leaving behind a linear seismic signature.A network of seismometers evenly spaced onthe Moon could identify a Strange Quark Nuggetevent.Strange Quark Matter is theoretically thestablest form of nuclear matter, and may exist inthe interior of neutron stars. It might have alsobeen produced during the Big Bang, but it hasnever been directly detected. The relatively lowseismic noise on the Moon may make it anattractive location to search for Strange QuarkNuggets that leave a linear seismic signature.Seeing this signature on the Moon wouldconstitute a discovery of profound importance tonuclear physics and astrophysics.
XAstronomy & AstrophysicsmA7
Make precisemeasurements of theMoon's position to testEinstein's theory of general relativity.Placing lunar laser transponders at a number of sites on the near side of the Moon would allowthe relative motion of the Moon with respect tothe Earth to be measured to the millimeter levelof accuracy. Laser pulses sent from the Earth tothe Moon would trigger coherent return pulsesfrom the lunar laser stations. The respondingpulses would be received and timed at Earthtracking stations providing unparalleled orbitalpositional accuracy. The Apollo retroreflectorshave been used for this purpose, but these yielda very small signal that limits accuracy.Laser ranging measurements of the Moon’sposition have given us some of our mostaccurate tests of Einstein’s theory of gravity(which has so far passed all its tests). Placinglaser transponders on the Moon wouldsignificantly enhance the power of these tests.
XAstronomy & AstrophysicsmA8
Detect and monitor NearEarth Objects (NEO) todiscover threats to theEarth and Moon.Conduct sky surveys from the lunar surface todetect NEOs, determine their orbits, assess theirphysical characteristics, and evaluate thepotential hazard to Earth and the Moon.The long lunar night and the absence of atmosphere make the Moon an attractivelocation for discovering NEOs that mightotherwise go undetected from Earth or LowEarth Orbit. Earth's impact crater history andthe ever increasing catalog of newly discoveredNEOs demonstrate the importance of NEOresearch for global protection.
XXXAstronomy & AstrophysicsmA9
Evaluate the Moon'spotential as anobservation platform tomaximize investments inastronomy andastrophysics.Carry out a site survey of the Moon andcharacterize aspects of the lunar environment todetermine the best locations for varioustelescopes. Consider dust contamination,seismic environment, thermal environment,radio environment, and other variables.Emplace a small telescope in a representativelocation before investing in a larger, moreexpensive telescope.A lunar telescope will be very expensive.Studying the lunar environment will bring betterunderstanding of the observations that can bemost effeciently conducted from the Moon, aswell as which sites are best suited to differenttelscopes. This information will inform thetelescope selection and siting and help tooptimize the scientific return.