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NASA to create new institute to help discuss the moon

NASA announced plans to create a lunar scientific institute aimed at helping the U.S. space agency lay out future plans for the moon.  The NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI), to be managed by the NASA Ames Research Center, should open March 1, 2008.

The NLSI crew will help discuss basic lunar science, along with astronomical, solar and various Earth sciences that could be conducted on the lunar surface.

“I am excited about NLSI,” said Alan Stern, NASA Science Mission Directorate associate administrator.  “As the National Academy of Sciences has told us, the science to be done at the moon and from the moon are of high value, and NLSI will help us coordinate and expand a number of in-depth research efforts in lunar science and other fields that can benefit from human and robotic missions that are part of NASA's exploration plans.”

NASA will first start by selecting four or five teams to receive "grants of $1 to $2 million each for three years, with renewals of up to five years."  According to the press release, it is possible for as many as 50 researchers to be working under the NLSI banner by late 2008.  The number could double by 2010.

The hunt for a director to lead the NLSI is on, though no possible candidates have been named.

As so many other nations continue to develop plans to reach the lunar surface with robots and astronauts over the next 20 or so years, I support new institutes and programs that will help make sure the United States is one of the countries to get back to the moon.




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