NASA offers $10 million for lunar research projects

NASA is looking for a few good lunar research ideas and is willing to pay $8 to $10 million for the effort.

NASA’s Lunar Science Institute will handle the research proposals which should address the institute’s core interests: science of the moon including objectives that meet NASA's future lunar exploration needs. NASA anticipates making five to seven awards, including one focused on exploration objectives.  

Participation is open to all categories of organizations, both domestic and foreign, including industry, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and federally funded research and development centers. NASA field centers and other government agencies also are eligible to submit proposals, NASA said.

For the NLSI, lunar science research is broadly defined to include studies:

1) Of the Moon: Investigations of the nature and history of the Moon (including research on lunar samples) to learn about this specific object and thereby provide insights into the evolution of our solar system.

2) On the Moon: Investigations of the effects of the lunar environment on terrestrial life and the equipment that supports lunar inhabitants, and the effects of robotic and human presence on the lunar environment.

3) From the Moon: Use of the Moon as a platform for performing scientific investigations, including observations of the Earth and other celestial phenomena that are uniquely enabled by being on the lunar surface.  

A relatively new endeavour, the NLSI is a program to support larger, more focused research efforts in support of NASA's lunar science and exploration programs, NASA said. The Institute is conceived as an experiment in scientific collaboration. The idea is that large research grants will facilitate innovative, longer-term investigations, NASA said.

In addition to sponsoring research, the NLSI carries out programs to strengthen the lunar science community, support NASA lunar flight missions, train the next generation of lunar scientists, and communicate about lunar science with educators and the public.

Operationally, NLSI is modeled on the successful NASA Astrobiology Institute, which has teams across the nation working together to help lead the agency's lunar research activities. The group focuses on the scientific study of life in the universe-its origin, evolution, distribution, and future.

If you are interested, NASA said Notices of intent for NLSI are due June 27, 2008. Proposals are due Aug. 29, 2008.

The current solicitation is one in a string of NASA research requests. In January NASA is looked for proposals from the scientific and aerospace communities for design ideas for its next lunar lander. NASA officials said the Altair spacecraft will deliver four astronauts to the lunar surface late during the next decade.  

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