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Back to the Moon: For Science and Exploration

NASA has an ambitious plan to return astronauts to the Moon - Project Artemis. The return includes commercial and international partners with the goal of promoting a faster and more extensive exploration of the Moon as well as destinations beyond.

In a fashion similar to what has been done in commercializing low-Earth orbit, NASA proposes to lead these partnerships. The plan is to establish a space outpost - the Gateway - to learn how to live in deep space and to explore the Moon from above. In addition, it will allow the landing of astronauts at the lunar south pole by 2024.

What are the goals of Project Artemis? Is the lunar south pole the best place to go? What science will we be able to conduct from the surface of the moon and from the Gateway?

The new plan has received both praise and criticism. Supporters praise it as valuable, as they view it as the first true step for humans to permanently settle another world, and prepare for the exploration of Mars and beyond. Opponents criticize it as too rushed, too costly, or too ill-defined.

We are inviting three space scientists (an engineer, an explorer, and an astronomer) from different backgrounds to share their thoughts on this new program. Bruce Pittman, who has been the Chief System Engineer in the NASA Space Portal Office at the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley since 2005 and has supported the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, will describe the goals and objectives of the gateway and the return to the Moon in the framework of NASA. Dr. Pascal Lee, a planetary scientist with the SETI Institute and the Mars Institute, will discuss the new prospects of exploring the Moon and their potential to advance the human exploration of outer space, in particular of Mars. Finally, Dr. Doug Caldwell, Kepler Instrument Scientist and Chair of the exoplanet group of the Sagan Center, will emphasize the use of the Gateway for scientific studies in fields as diverse as astronomy and medicine.

Thursday, 07/18/19


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