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Speaker: Ben Bussey, Johns Hopkins University – Applied Physics Laboratory

Title: “Characterizing Luna Incognita”

Abstract: When we began this integrated research project, the lunar Polar Regions were regarded as “Luna incognita”, the unknown Moon.  During the last four years we have striven to further our understanding of the Polar Regions so that they are now as well known, and in some case better known, than the rest of the Moon. ”Luna incognita” has become “Luna cognate”:
Characterizing Luna Incognita:
  • Study the geology of the poles
  • Characterize the surface and subsurface properties
  • Evaluate the ability to conduct surface operations, regolith excavation, and drilling
  • Evaluate potential instrumentation for science conducted from and on the Moon
The goal of our team is to advance our scientific understanding of the Moon’s poles and to fill in strategic knowledge gaps that facilitate the robotic and human exploration of these areas.  One aspect that could not have been predicted is the wealth of new data that have become available since we began. These new data produced by an armada of spacecraft, including India’s Chandrayaan-1, Japan’s Kaguya mission, and NASA’s LRO & LCROSS, provide new insight into the processes and history of the lunar poles.
Our results provide useful data for planning future lunar surface missions. For example we have located places near bothpoles that are constantly illuminated for several months around mid Summer.Such locations permit long-duration missions that do not have to survive periods of darkness. Also we have mapped regions of permanent shadow as farfrom the poles as 58° latitude. This new result drastically increases the opportunities for missions wishing to investigate if these areas contain volatiles, a useful resource for future robotic and human explorers.
A key aspect of our research has been collaboration.  In addition to the natural collaboration between team members our work has benefited by the successful collaboration with other NLSI teams as well as other US and international scientists and engineers.

Biography: Ben Bussey is a planetary scientist at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. He earned a BA in Physics from Oxford University and a Ph.D. in planetary geology at University College London before moving to the States. He gained both science and mission experience while working at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, the European Space Agency, and Northwestern University, before joining the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory where is the Assistant Group supervisor of the planetaryexploration group.Ben’s research concentrates on the remote sensing of the surfaces of planets, particularly the Moon. He has a particular interest in the lunar poles, producing the first quantitative illumination maps of the polar regions. He co-authored the Clementine Atlas of the Moon, thefirst atlas to map both the lunar near side and far side in a systematic manner.

In addition to being PI of a NLSI team he is also PI of the Mini-RF radar instrument on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. This instrument, together with Arecibo telescope, is currently acquiring unique bistatic radar data to search for polar ice deposits.

He enjoys planetary analogue field work and has been fortunate to have twice ben part of the ANSMET (Antarctic Search for Meteorites) expedition to recover meteorites from the Antarctic glaciers.

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