What We Study

The Moon is a cornerstone for solar system science and exoplanet studies. Understanding the Moon helps us understand other planets, how they have evolved and the processes which have shaped their surfaces. It also helps us understand the influence the Moon has had on the Earth, the record of the ancient Sun, and it serves as a platform to study the rest of the universe. By using the Moon as our closest testing ground for robotics and instrument systems, we can further human exploration to not only the Moon, but the rest of the solar system. Leveraging human exploration infrastructure and resources supports and advances our ability to conduct remote field geology and other science investigations on planetary bodies with both crew and robotic assets.

The Moon’s surface is shown in an array of hues covering all the colors in the rainbow. An elevation color bar is on the right with the colors beginning in the white at 10,760 meters and ends in the blue at negative 9,150 meters. Most of the lunar map is a bright orange and yellow, while at the south pole blue and purple dominate that area. The green hues are peaking through the orange to show places of lower elevation.
NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) team released this topographical image of the Moon’s surface which was achieved by using the LRO Wide Angle Camera (WAC) and the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA). The pixel scale is about 100 meters which means a single measure of elevation (one pixel) is about two football fields side-by-side. This map is a near-globe representation of the moon with an elevation color chart on the right measured in meters. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/DLR/Arizona State University

The overall mission of ESSIO aims to ensure science from all the SMD divisions is being enabled by and included within exploration elements and technology investments throughout the entire agency. Strategic thinking on the best path forward for decadal-level science in exploration activities is applied to our commercial initiatives, international partnerships as well as cross-directorate collaborations.

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