January 27, 2006
As part of the new Vision for Space Exploration announced by President George W. Bush over two years ago, a series of robotic missions to the Moon were envisaged to prepare the way for human lunar return. These missions consist of orbiters and landers and are designed both to collect strategic information to support the human missions to follow and to create new technical capabilities that will be required for those journeys. Data from the orbital missions will expand our global remote sensing of the Moon and provide a knowledge base from which targeted sites on the Moon will be selected for scientific exploration and resource exploitation. After this remote data are analyzed, robotic landers will be sent to selected sites to collect detailed, specific in situ information that will inform decisions on the architectural details of human missions and ultimately, an outpost on the Moon. The last decade of lunar exploration has shown us that the poles of the Moon are of great interest, both scientifically and for their resource potential. Work is now underway to design a lander mission at a lunar polar region and explore this unknown terrain. Data from this mission will permit intelligent and efficient planning for future human exploration and utilization of the Moon.
Dr. Paul D. Spudis is a Principal Professional Staff member at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland and Visiting Scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas. He is a geologist who received his education at Arizona State University (B.S., 1976; Ph. D., 1982) and at Brown University (Sc.M., 1977) and specializes in research on the processes of impact and volcanism on the planets. He has served on NASA's Lunar and Planetary Sample Team (LAPST), which advises allocations of lunar samples for scientific research, the Lunar Exploration Science Working Group (LEXSWG), that devised scientific strategies of lunar exploration, and the Planetary Geology Working Group, which monitors overall directions in the planetary research community. He has been a member of the Committee for Planetary and Lunar Exploration (COMPLEX), an advisory committee of the National Academy of Sciences, and the Synthesis Group, a White House panel that in 1990-1991, analyzed a return to the Moon to establish a base and the first human mission to Mars. He was Deputy Leader of the Science Team for the Department of Defense Clementine mission to the Moon in 1994 and is the Principal Investigator of an imaging radar experiment on the Indian Chandrayaan-1 mission, to be launched to the Moon in 2007. He served as a member of the President's Commission on the Implementation of U. S. Space Exploration Policy, whose report was issued June, 2004 and in September 2004, was presented with the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal for his work on that body. He is the recipient of the 2006 Von Karman Lectureship in Astronautics, awarded by the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is the author or co-author of over 150 scientific papers and three books, including The Once and Future Moon, a book for the general public in the Smithsonian Library of the Solar System series, and (with Ben Bussey) The Clementine Atlas of the Moon, published in 2004 by Cambridge University Press.