NASA has selected nine research teams from seven states for a new institute that will bring researchers together in a collaborative virtual setting to focus on questions concerning space science and human space exploration.

The teams participating in the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) will address scientific questions about the moon, near-Earth asteroids, the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos, and their near space environments, in cooperation with international partners.

“We look forward to collaborative scientific discoveries from these teams,” said Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “These results will be vital to NASA successfully conducting the ambitious activities of exploring the solar system with robots and humans.”

Based and managed at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., the institute will support scientific research and complement and extend existing NASA science programs. SSERVI represents an expansion of NASA’s Lunar Science Institute, established at Ames in 2008, to include other solar system destinations.

“SSERVI continues to strengthen the collaboration between exploration and science as we explore the solar system together,” said Jason Crusan, director of the Advanced Exploration Systems Division in NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate in Washington.

SSERVI members include academic institutions, non-profit research institutes, private companies, NASA centers and other government laboratories. The winning teams, which SSERVI will support for five years at a combined total of about $12 million per year, were selected from a pool of 32 proposals based on competitive peer-review evaluation.

This graphic shows the orbits of all the known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs), numbering over 1,400 as of early 2013. These documented tumbling boulders of rock and ice are over 140 meters across and will pass within 7.5 million kilometers of Earth—about 20 times the distance to the Moon. Although none of them will strike the Earth in the next 100 years—not all PHAs have been discovered, and past 100 years, many orbits become hard to predict. By continuing to observe and track these asteroids, their orbits can be refined and more precise predictions made of their future close approaches and impact probabilities. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“We are extremely pleased that the community responded with such high-quality proposals, and look forward to the many contributions new SSERVI team members will make in addressing NASA’s science and exploration goals,” said Yvonne Pendleton, the Institute’s director at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field CA.

New Institute Programmatic Balance. Credit: SSERVI

NLSI Team Expansions. Credit: SSERVI

The selected SSERVI member teams are:

- Institute for the Science of Exploration Targets: Origin, Evolution and Discovery; principal investigator William Bottke, Southwest Research Institute in Boulder CO.
Focus: Formation of terrestrial planets and asteroid belt, modeling of the Moon’s origin and Phobos/Deimos, history of NEAs and lunar bombardment, NEA origins, identification and characterization

- Center for Lunar and Asteroid Surface Science; principal investigator Daniel Britt, University of Central Florida in Orlando FL.
Focus: Studies of physical properties of regoliths: geotechnical properties, microgravity effects, impact ejecta, dynamics, hydration and weathering of NEAs, charging and mobilization of dust

- Volatiles, Regolith and Thermal Investigations Consortium for Exploration and Science; principal investigator Ben Bussey, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel MD.
Focus: Volatiles sources/sinks/processes and interaction with regoliths, evolution of regoliths on all target bodies, identification and exploitation of resources

- Dynamic Response of Environments at Asteroids, the Moon, and moons of Mars; principal investigator William Farrell, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt MD.
Focus: Plasma interactions, exospheres, Radiation of exposed materials, space weathering, solar storms/solar wind

- Remote, In Situ and Synchrotron Studies for Science and Exploration; principal investigator Timothy Glotch, Stony Brook University, NY.
Focus: Remote sensing of airless bodies, field operations and metrics for human exploration, reactivity and toxicity of regoliths, synchrotron analyses of samples, volcanics and impact crater analog research

- Field Investigations to Enable Solar System Science and Exploration; principal investigator Jennifer Heldmann, NASA Ames Research Center, CA.
Focus: Volcanics construct and magma chamber evolution, impact cratering mechanics and chronology, sampling for impact melt geology/geochemistry, and volatile evolution and entrapment.

- Institute for Modeling Plasma, Atmospheres and Cosmic Dust; principal investigator Mihaly Horanyi, University of Colorado in Boulder CO.
Focus: Small scale impact studies/regolith gardening, plasma charging and mobilization of dust, near surface plasma environments, new advancements on dust accelerator facility

- Inner Solar System Impact Processes; principal investigator David Kring, Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston TX.
Focus: Impact history and processes, geochemistry of regoliths, age dating of regolith materials, NEA identification and characterization

- Evolution and Environment of Exploration Destinations: Science and Engineering Synergism; principal investigator Carle Pieters, Brown University in Providence RI.
Focus: Thermal/chemical evolution of planetary bodies, origin and evolution of volatiles, remote sensing, space weathering of regoliths

SSERVI is a virtual institute that, together with international partnerships, brings researchers together in a collaborative virtual setting. The virtual institute model enables cross-team and interdisciplinary research that pushes forward the boundaries of science and exploration. SSERVI is supported by the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) and Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

The SSERVI Mission is to:

• Conduct basic and applied research fundamental to lunar and planetary sciences while advancing human exploration of the solar system

• Conduct and catalyze collaborative research in lunar and planetary science, enabling cross-disciplinary partnerships throughout the science and exploration communities

• Provide scientific, technical, and mission-relevant analyses for appropriate NASA programs, planning, and space missions as requested by NASA

• Explore innovative ways of using information technology for scientific collaboration and information dissemination across geographic and contextual boundaries to stimulate inter- and cross-discipline research

• Train the next generation of scientific explorers through research opportunities, and encourage global education and public outreach (EPO) through formal education, informal programs, and participatory public events

Posted by: Soderman/SSERVI Staff
Source: NASA

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