Exploration Systems Mission Directorate’s (ESMD’s) goals and priorities, and (3) establishing a science office embedded in the ESMD to plan and implement science in the VSE. Following the Apollo model, such an office should report jointly to the Science Mission Directorate and the ESMD, with the science office controlling the proven end-to-end science process.
Finding 2R: Great strides and major advances in robotics, space and information technology, and exploration techniques have been made since Apollo. These changes are accompanied by a greatly evolved understanding of and approach to planetary science and improvements in use of remote sensing and field and laboratory sample analyses. Critical to achieving high science return in Apollo was the selection of the lunar landing sites and the involvement of the science community in that process. Similarly, the scientific community’s involvement in detailed mission planning and implementation resulted in efficient and productive surface traverses and instrument deployments.
Recommendation 2R: The development of a comprehensive process for lunar landing site selection that addresses the science goals of Table 5.1 in this report should be started by a science definition team. The choice of specific sites should be permitted to evolve as the understanding of lunar science progresses through the refinement of science goals and the analysis of existing and newly acquired data. Final selection should be done with the full input of the science community in order to optimize the science return while meeting engineering and safety constraints. Similarly, science mission planning should proceed with the broad involvement of the science and engineering communities. The science should be designed and implemented as an integrated human/robotic program employing the best each has to offer. Extensive crew training and mission simulation should be initiated early to help devise optimum exploration strategies.
Finding 3R: The opportunity provided by the VSE to accomplish science, lunar and otherwise, is highly dependent for success on modernizing the technology and instrumentation available. The virtual lack of a lunar science program and no human exploration over the past 30 years have resulted in a severe lack of qualified instrumentation suitable for the lunar environment. Without such instrumentation, the full and promising potential of the VSE will not be realized.
Recommendation 3R: NASA, with the intimate involvement of the science community, should immediately initiate a program to develop and upgrade technology and instrumentation that will enable the full potential of the VSE. Such a program must identify the full set of requirements as related to achieving priority science objectives and prioritize these requirements in the context of programmatic constraints. In addition, NASA should capitalize on its technology development investments by providing a clear path into flight development.
Finding 4R: The NASA curatorial facilities and staff have provided an exemplary capability since the Apollo program to take advantage of the scientific information inherent in extraterrestrial samples. The VSE has the potential to add significant demands on the curatorial facilities. The existing facilities and techniques are not sufficient to accommodate that demand and the new requirements that will ensue. Similarly, there is a need for new approaches to the acquisition of samples on lunar missions.
Recommendation 4R: NASA should conduct a thorough review of all aspects of sample curation, taking into account the differences between a lunar outpost-based program and the sortie approach taken by the Apollo missions. This review should start with a consideration of documentation, collection, and preservation procedures on the Moon and continue to a consideration of the facilities requirements for maintaining and analyzing the samples on Earth. NASA should enlist a broad group of scientists familiar with curatorial capabilities and the needs of lunar science, such as the Curation and Analysis Planning Team for Extraterrestrial Materials (CAPTEM), to assist it with the review.