With NASA just days away from launching its LCROSS lunar observation satellite, CNET News reporter Daniel Terdiman headed to the Lunar Science Institute to hear what the new agency is up to.<br>
As NASA embarks on the path to its next manned lunar mission, it is ramping up its efforts to study, and assist others to study, the science of the moon. As such, it recently launched the Lunar Science Institute, an organization run out of the space agency's Ames Research facility in Silicon Valley that is somewhat of a clearinghouse of--and funding arm for--the latest research into the moon.
Launched in 1965, the Ranger 8 mission was designed to send back hi-res images of the surface of the moon during the last minutes of a "flight up to impact." This image depicts the site of impact of the mission. According to NASA, the resolution of the image is approximately 0.4 meters per pixel.
Figure 1 is the reproduced trajectory of the Ranger 8 mission from NASA SP-168.
Starting June 14, NASA will begin deploying robots on a lunar-like surface in Arizona to research the data that the robots collect. The goal is to figure out where man should go on the moon when NASA returns. This is the K-10 robot, which will be controlled by specialists at the Lunar Science Institute at NASA Ames in Silicon Valley, but which will be traversing the so-called Black Point Lava flow in Arizona.
The Lunar Science Institute, based at NASA Ames in Silicon Valley, is supported by the space agency's Science Mission Directorate and the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. It is is modeled on NASA's Astrobiology Institute.
The so-called "Hyperwall," or OptIPortal, is used at the Lunar Science Institute in part to visualize large and complex sets of scientific data, as well as huge, high-res images, lunar mapping and modeling projects, and to connect lunar science teams, or other NASA teams, in high-res videoconferences.
All around the Lunar Science Institute, there are mounted newspaper front pages from particularly notable dates in NASA's original lunar exploration program. This one is the front page from the New York Times featuring the world-famous headline from July 21, 1969, "Men Walk on Moon."