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NASA: 163560main LunarExplorationObjectives

NASA: 163560main LunarExplorationObjectives

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Published by: NASAdocuments on Jan 12, 2008
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Lunar Exploration ObjectivesVersion 1, released December 2006Astronomy and AstrophysicsPage 1 of 2
ExplorationPreparationScientificKnowledgeHumanCivilizationEconomicExpansionGlobalPartnershipsPublicEngagementAstronomy & AstrophysicsmA1
Perform radio astronomyto map the cosmic weband observe otherastronomical objects.Radio interferometry antenna arrays, as well assingle-dish antennae, located on the far-side of the Moon could provide data on exoticphenomena in the universe: pulsars, blackholes, planetary radio emissions, and theremnants of the big bang.Radio astronomy is enabled by being on the farside of the Moon. Low frequencies can not beobserved from the Earth because they areabsorbed by the atmoshere. High frequenciescan not be observed from the Earth because theradio environment on Earth is too noisy. The farside of the Moon, lacking an atmosphere andshielded from the Earth's radio noise, is ideal.
XAstronomy & AstrophysicsmA2
Perform interferometryon the lunar surface toobserve the universe atUV, optical, and infraredwavelengths.Perform interferometry on lunar surface toobserve the universe at UV, optical and infraredwavelengths, including observations of extra-solar planets.Interferometry on the Moon is enabled becausethe Moon is a dark site without an atmosphere.Locating a telescope in the bottom of a cratercould have additional advantages for IRobservations because of the cold temperaturethere. However, the Moon offers a harsherenvironment for interferometry in the UV,optical, and NIR than does deep space. Largethermal variations, mechanical distortions dueto lunar gravity, dust, and seismic noise are allabsent in deep space.
XAstronomy & AstrophysicsmA3
Detect gravitationalwaves to observe avariety of astrophysicaland cosmologicalphenomena that areunobservable in theelectromagneticspectrum.Gravitational waves are created from mergingsupermassive black holes and binary compactobjects. Gravitational waves are expected to bedetected by ground and space-based systems inthe next decade. The Moon offers anotherstable platform on which to place detectioninstruments.The Moon affords a stable base for the widelyspaced detectors required to detect gravitationalwaves. However, the longest feasible baselinesfor gravitational wave interferometry on theMoon would be about 100 km (e.g. on the rim of the Newton Crater), only one order of magnitude longer than those currently existingon Earth. Although lunar seismic noise could benullified with existing technology, the thermalrequirements (the factor that would ultimatelylimit performance) on a lunar gravitational waveinterferometer would be severe, worse than onEarth or deep space.
XAstronomy & AstrophysicsmA4
Detect and monitorexoplanets to gainperspective on theuniqueness of the Earthand our solar system.Monitor nearby stars over time to detect transitby planets.Understanding extrasolar planetary systems iscritical for gaining perspective on theuniqueness of our own solar system and theEarth within it. Photometric accuracy of instruments on the Moon would be better thancould be obtained from Earth because of theblurring effects of the Earth's atmosphere.There may be no improvement over space-based telescopes in this regard.
XThemes SupportedValueCategoryNameSummaryObjective IDNumber
Lunar Exploration ObjectivesVersion 1, released December 2006Astronomy and AstrophysicsPage 2 of 2
ExplorationPreparationScientificKnowledgeHumanCivilizationEconomicExpansionGlobalPartnershipsPublicEngagementThemes SupportedValueCategoryNameSummaryObjective 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.
Lunar Exploration ObjectivesVersion 1, released December 2006HeliophysicsPage 1 of 4
ExplorationPreparationScientificKnowledgeHumanCivilizationEconomicExpansionGlobalPartnershipsPublicEngagementHeliophysics mHEO1
Image the interactionof the Sun'sheliosphere with theinterstellar medium toenable identificationand comparison of other heliospheres.Image the heliospheric boundaries in theextreme ultraviolet and soft x-raywavelenths. Investigate the interactions of the stellar nebula (the heliosphere), in itsvarious stages of formation and evolution,with its local interstellar medium.Determining the interaction properties of our own heliosphere with the localinterstellar medium will enable us toidentify and compare other heliospheres.
XHeliophysics mHEO2
Perform low-frequency radioastronomyobservations of theSun to improve ourunderstanding of space weather.Perform low-frequency radio astronomyobservations of the Sun. Observe transientsolar Type II sources to enableidentification and tracking of Earth-directedshocks associated with solar particle eventsand enable measurement of solar windproperties throughout the heliosphere.Earth-directed shocks associated withparticle events are potentially hazardous toastronauts and orbiting assets. Detectingand tracking these events would providesome advanced warning so that humansand equipment could be protected as bestpossible. In addition, because theseobservations could probe space from a fewsolar radii out to 1 AU, the observationswould allow greatly improved spaceweather forecasting, improvedunderstanding of shock formation andevolution, and detailed mapping of theinterplanetary electron density andmagnetic field topology. Imagingobservations have never been achieved atfrequencies below 10MHz because of theEarth's ionospheric effects.
X X XHeliophysics mHEO3
Study the dymanics of the magnetotail as itcrosses the Moon'sorbit to learn aboutthe development andtransport of plasmoids.Place detectors on the Moon or on satellitesorbiting the Moon to provide regularmeasurements of the Earth's magnetotail,which crosses the lunar orbit forapproximately five days of every month.Arrays of detectors could be used to studythe small scale shape, structure anddynamics of plasmoids, as well as other tailregions and boundaries. Active releaseexperiments, observed from the Moon,could also be used to measure plasmoidtransport.The Moon is an ideal location for studyingthe development and transport of plasmoids, which travel down the Earth'smagnetotail after substorm onset.Substorms are the basic process by whichenergy is stored and released in themagnetotail.
XThemes SupportedValueCategory Name SummaryObjective IDNumber

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