Carle Pieters PhD. , Brown University
The Moon: Brimstone to Keystone, Touchstone, and Cornerstone
The Earth and the Moon share a common early origin, but subsequent geologic evolution has led to quite different planetary bodies that reside in the same part of the solar system. A remarkable array of new lunar data acquired by an international armada of spacecraft over the last decade has stimulated a renaissance of inquiries about the character of the Moon and how its properties can be used to truly understand fundamental processes active on and in a planetary body. “The Moon as Cornerstone to the Terrestrial Planets” team of the NASA Lunar Science Institute is jointly hosted by Brown University and MIT faculty who share a long history of science interactions. The NLSI structure has enabled widespread science interactions and spawned active involvement by the next generation of researchers and scientific leaders. Activities range from probing the deep internal dynamo of the ancient Moon to characterizing space weathering processes active on the present surface – all leading to new strategies for human and robotic exploration.
Dr. Carle Pieters is a professor of Geological Sciences at Brown University and is PI of the Brown/MIT NLSI team, involving 22 Co-Investigators, 9 Collaborators, and a large and continually evolving group of students and post-docs. The Brown/MIT NLSI team links the talents of investigators at 9 US and 6 foreign institutions. Dr. Pieters obtained a master’s then PhD degree at MIT in 1977 and has been pursuing the mysteries of the Moon ever since as research evolved with significant improvement in laboratory and remote sensing capabilities. Her research focuses on compositional evolution of the crust and properties of the regolith and uses an increasingly sophisticated array of spectroscopic tools, including the Moon Mineralogy Mapper, which she recently led as PI. She is committed to collaborative research and Co-chaired the 2007 NRC report “Scientific Context for Exploration of the Moon”. She is a Fellow of AGU, AAAS, and GSA and has been awarded the Kuiper Prize (AAS/DPS) and G. K. Gilbert Award (GSA).
David A. Kring PhD., Lunar and Planetary Institute
Discoveries along a Path to a New Age of Science and Exploration
Our NLSI team was designed to develop a core, multi-institutional lunar science program that addresses the highest science priorities; provide scientific and technical expertise to NASA that will infuse its lunar research programs, including developing investigations that influence current and future space missions; support the development of a lunar science community that both captures the surviving Apollo experience and trains the next generation of lunar science researchers; and use that core lunar science to develop education and public outreach programs that will energize and capture the imagination of K-14 audiences and the general public. We have succeeded beyond our proposed expectations. We dramatically sharpened our understanding of impact bombardment, from the accretional growth of planets to the terminal cataclysm that reshaped the entire solar system c. 3.9 Ga. The team helped NASA develop mission scenarios (e.g., to Malapert Massif and to the Earth-Moon L2 position), conduct a global survey of lunar landing sites, and identify the most attractive sites for both robotic and human exploration (e.g., Schrödinger basin, SPA basin, and Amundsen crater). We have also helped field tests of mission scenarios, to both the Moon and NEA, with astronauts and the LER-SEV in the DRATS analog program.
Dr. David A. Kring represents a 40-member science and exploration team, including international partners in 4 countries, and a 20-member higher education consortium, that collectively have trained 14 postdoctoral researchers and approximately 100 graduate students. PI Kring received his Ph.D. in earth and planetary sciences from Harvard University. He specializes in impact cratering processes produced when asteroids and comets collide with planetary surfaces. Kring is perhaps best known for his work with the discovery of the Chicxulub impact crater, which he linked to the K-T boundary mass extinction of dinosaurs and over half of the plants and animals that existed on Earth 65 million years ago. He has explored how impact cratering may have affected the early evolution of the Earth-Moon system. That work includes a decade-long campaign to test the lunar cataclysm hypothesis and the realization that the process affected the entire inner solar system. Kring developed an impact-origin of life hypothesis that suggests the intense period of impact bombardment created vast subsurface hydrothermal systems on Earth that were crucibles for pre-biotic chemistry and provided habitats for the early evolution of life. Dr. Kring also led a joint academic-industry-NASA design team for a robotic lunar lander and rover system that can be deployed anywhere on the lunar surface. He is particularly interested in the interfaces between science, exploration, and operations, to ensure our nation’s exploration beyond LEO maximizes productivity while enhancing safety and efficiencies during robotic and crew operations. He trains astronauts how to work on planetary surfaces, whether that be on the Moon, NEA, or Mars.
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