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Addendum to Community Announcement NNH12ZDA013J

High-Level Features of Institute for Comment

This page contains information about a planned science and exploration institute supported jointly by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

NASA has distributed a community announcement stating that it intends to release a Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) for a new NASA science and exploration institute (name to be determined) no earlier than October 2012. The text of the community announcement can be found on the web at The research scope for the new CAN will span the fields of lunar, Near Earth Asteroids, and Martian moon (Phobos and Deimos) sciences, with preference given to topics that relate to the joint interests of both planetary science and human exploration. Interested community members and especially prospective proposers are encouraged to read the information below and provide comments by October 10, 2012, via email, to the contacts given at the end of this web page.

Definitions and Terms

  • Institute:NASA research institute for science and exploration
  • Institution:Any research organization
  • Moon (Lunar):Earth’s moon and its environs, including first and second Earth-Moon Lagrange points.
  • NEA:Near Earth Asteroids
  • NLSI:NASA Lunar Science Institute
  • Principal Investigator (PI):An individual who is the leader of the proposing research team and responsible for the quality and direction of the entire proposed investigation and for the use of all awarded funds
  • Target Body(s):One or more of the following solar system bodies: Moon, Near Earth Asteroid(s), Martian moons Phobos, Deimos
  • Workshops without Walls:Virtual 1-3 day workshops done entirely by videoconference

Overview of the Institute

The NASA research institute for science and exploration will be an innovative, virtual research organization that leverages knowledge and expertise from the science and exploration communities to support NASA’s goals in lunar and planetary science and human exploration of the solar system. The Institute is based on the premise that exploration and science are fundamentally intertwined: exploration enables science, and science enables exploration. The Institute will catalyze collaborative research that fosters cross-disciplinary partnerships within, and between, the science and exploration communities. Linking a diverse community of researchers, Institute teams will investigate basic and applied science questions that enable a deeper understanding of the formation, evolution and current state of the solar system, including questions relevant to human exploration.

The Institute will consist of a geographically distributed network of peer-reviewed and competitively selected teams managed by a small central office located at NASA Ames Research Center. The Institute will bring these teams together – each with their own set of disciplines and capabilities ­ to solve science and exploration problems. In addition, the Institute will foster a flexible environment of collaboration and cross-fertilization among the individual teams, enabling them to identify and conduct interdisciplinary research. Additionally, by partnering with international academic and government research organizations, the Institute is intended to achieve broad representation across both the domestic and international science and exploration communities.

The prime product of the Institute will be research, disseminated through professional publications, workshops and other communication methods. The Institute will lead the community through sponsorship of conferences and activities focused on science and exploration. The Institute will support a robust program to communicate the excitement of science and exploration to teachers, students, and the public, while also developing programs to train the next generation of space science explorers.

The Institute will establish a number of international collaborations that provide additional interdisciplinary scientific and technical expertise to the Institute. The Institute’s predecessor, the NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI), developed a partnership program with seven international partners to provide collaborative opportunities across the global science community. It is expected that each of the existing international partners will continue their partnership with the Institute. The Institute encourages collaborations between international partners and domestic teams. The current international partners are: Canada, Germany, Israel, The Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. International partnerships are conducted with no exchange of funds between the Institute and the international partner (see Section 3.3). Further information, including the contacts for current international partners and the application process for those interested in becoming a new international partner, may be obtained at Note that applications for international partnership are not part of this call for proposals.

Research Objectives

The research scope for the planned CAN will be in the fields of lunar, NEA and Martian moons sciences, with preference given to topics that relate to the joint interests of both planetary science and human exploration. The proposed researchshould address NASA’s science and exploration goals (either or both) and should include broadly based investigations of the highest quality that address basic and applied science objectives. The proposed research should be integrated; thus, proposals consisting of tasks addressing multifaceted questions must demonstrate credible, scientific connections among the tasks. Proposals that only address a single question should strive to integrate interdisciplinary expertise and methodologies. It is expected, but not required, that teams bring together broadly based expertise from more than a single institution.

The planned CAN would support the broad spectrum of lunar, NEA, and Martian moons sciences encompassing investigations of the surface, interior, exosphere, and the near-space environments of these bodies. Investigations of Target Body(s) genesis and evolution, as well as Earth-Moon and Earth-NEA system processes, will be welcome. Solicited investigations will include, but are not limited to, theoretical investigations, numerical modeling of physical or chemical processes, experimental/laboratory investigations, and field analog studies. Proposed investigations may involve a combination of these activities. The scope of basic and applied sciences to be funded by the planned CAN includes, but is not limited to, the following fields: geology, geochemistry, geophysics, exospheric science, solar wind environment history/physics, radiation environment physics, orbital dynamics, applied physics, chemistry, chemical engineering, civil engineering, fluid physics, mechanical engineering, and materials science and engineering.Proposals with major data gathering elements (such as telescopic studies, meteorite or lunar sample analysis) should justify the proposed work in the context of the scientific goals of the investigation.

Proposals that explore similar features and processes among the target bodies to uncover similarities and differences are highly encouraged. Likewise, proposals using comparative-planetology methodologies among the target bodies are also sought. PIs are free to propose studies of only one of the target bodies; however, all else being equal, proposals addressing more than one target body and exploring synergies – or the lack thereof - between target bodies, their features and processes, will likely be given programmatic preference. Additionally, while the topics of the planned CAN focus on potential destinations for human exploration (the Moon, NEAs, Phobos and Deimos), these topics can sometimes best be considered within the broader context of comparative planetology. Therefore, innovative proposals that include comparisons with main belt asteroids, comets, Mercury, Venus and Mars would be appropriate. Similarly, studies of telerobotic operational sites and associated research potential, including Earth-Moon Lagrange Points and the moons of Mars, may also be appropriate as part of a larger scientific effort.

The following are example topics that may be used as guidelines in defining the scientific content of the solicitation. No proposal would be expected to address all of these topics or all the sub-elements within each topic.

  • The role of the Moon, NEAs and the Martian moons in revealing the origin and evolution of the inner solar system:
    • Inner solar system history
    • Inventory and evolution of impactor population through time
    • Crater mechanics
    • Crater distributions on the Target Body(s)
    • Volatile origin sequestration and transport
    • Influence of impacts on the evolution of the Earth-Moon system
  • Moon, Martian moons and NEA investigations as windows (or stages) into planetary differentiation processes:
    • Gravitational properties of target body(s)
    • Structure of target body(s) interior(s)
    • Target body thermal history
    • Core formation mechanisms and core structure
    • Magnetic properties of target body(s)
    • Magma ocean studies
    • Role of volatiles in planetary differentiation and evolution
    • Geomorphology of target body(s) surfaces as indicators of subsurface processes
      • Includes: planet wide dichotomies
  • Near-Earth asteroid characterization (including NEAs that are potential human destinations:
    • Populations
    • Origin
    • Physical and chemical properties such as size, mass, spin mode, composition
    • Structure
    • Mechanical properties
    • Thermal properties
    • Electrostatic and plasma environment
    • How these characteristics have varied over time
  • Lunar and Martian moons and NEA structure and composition:
    • History of volcanism and igneous processes
    • Environmental conditions near and at the poles
    • Origin, characterization and sequestration of volatiles
    • Potential resources and prospecting
    • Exploration approaches.
  • Regolith of Target Body(s):
    • Geotechnical properties
    • Structure
    • Volatile content
    • Mobility
    • Regolith origin and evolution
    • Resource prospecting
  • Dust and plasma interactions on Target Body(s):
    • Dust composition
    • Dust size distribution
    • Dust mobility
    • Dune formation and evolution
    • Plasma contribution to dust transport and space weathering
    • Propulsion-induced ejecta
    • Other potential environmental effects on surface operations and systems for human exploration
  • Volatiles and other potential resources on Target Body(s):
    • Composition and concentration
    • Form
    • Origin
    • Transport
    • Polar studies
    • Distribution
    • Accessibility
    • Implications for exploration missions
    • Approaches to  in situ resource utilization


The CAN will not solicit for astrobiology research studies or teams.Those PIs interested in astrobiology studies and NASA’s astrobiology research solicitations should refer to the NASA Astrobiology Institute web page at:

Expectations of Teams for Integration into the Virtual Institute Structure

The virtual institute structure derives its strength from the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of its teams. To this end, teams will be expected to explore areas for collaboration with other teams selected under the CAN and with international partners of the Institute. Teams will be required to procure and use collaborative technologies for virtual participation as specified by the Institute’s central office ( Multi-institutional teams must insure that each institutional component of the team has the capability to fully participate in all virtual meetings. Additionally, an information technology specialist must be identified for every location site. Teams would be responsible for timely communication and responsiveness to the Institute central office.

Selected PIs will be responsible for:

  • Heading their individual Team
  • Attending virtual monthly meetings and quarterly Executive Council meetings,
  • Providing project updates and status for annual and monthly reporting,
  • Posting and maintaining a robust team website.

Additionally, teams would be expected to contribute to the success of the institute by participating in:

  • The Director's Seminar Series,
  • Workshops Without Walls,
  • The annual Institute Forum,
  • Student exchange programs,
  • Providing content to the Institute’s website
  • Developing white papers (as deemed necessary by theInstitute’s executive council).

Guidelines for Non-U.S. Participation

This CAN will not solicit for international teams. U.S.-based teams may have team members from international institutions. International institutions wishing to participate in such a manner may only do so on a no-exchange-of-funds basis.

Contact Information

Questions and comments related to this announcement should be addressed to both Bobby Fogel, Institute Program Scientist, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Washington DC 20546 (E-mail: and Michael Wargo, Institute Program Scientist, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA, Washington DC 20546 (E-mail: The subject line of the email should read "Institute Comment"or "Institute Question".

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