CPSX teams with NASA for virtual institute

Researchers from Western University’s Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX) and the Canadian Lunar Research Network (CLRN) will play a major role in NASA’s recently announced Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI).

NASA selected nine research teams for the new institute that will bring researchers together in a collaborative virtual setting to focus on questions concerning planetary space science and human space exploration.

CPSX Director Peter Brown and CLRN Principal Investigator Gordon Osinski are active international research partners in five of the successful teams, which will primarily address scientific questions about the Moon, near-Earth asteroids, the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos, and their near space environments.

“This is fantastic news for planetary science research at Western. It will offer our students and researchers an opportunity to collaborate with the leading researchers in the world in the areas of small solar system bodies, the Moon and Mars,” says Brown, the Canada Research Chair in Meteor Science and an astronomy professor at Western’s Faculty of Science. “Western already has a strong international research presence in these areas and this formal involvement, with more than half of all the SSERVI proposals, further strengthens our global reach.”

“This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for Western researchers and students alike,” says Osinski, the NSERC/ MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates/Canadian Space Agency Industrial Research Chair in Planetary Geology and a planetary geology professor at Western’s Faculty of Science. “My involvement in three SSERVI proposals stands as a testament to the expertise here at Western in impact cratering processes, which is central to understanding Solar System processes.”

Based and managed at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., the institute will support scientific research and complement and extend existing NASA science programs. SSERVI represents an expansion of NASA’s Lunar Science Institute (NLSI), now including other solar system destinations. Western also leads the CLRN, a national network of researchers from across Canada, which is an international affiliate member of SSERVI.

SSERVI members include academic institutions, non-profit research institutes, private companies, NASA centers and other government laboratories. The winning teams, which SSERVI will support for five years at a combined total of about $12 million per year, were selected from a pool of 32 proposals based on competitive peer-review evaluation.

Brown is part of the following two SSERVI member teams, listed with their research topics and principal investigators:

• Institute for the Science of Exploration Targets: Origin, Evolution and Discovery; William Bottke, Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo.

• Center for Lunar and Asteroid Surface Science; Daniel Britt, University of Central Florida in Orlando, Fla.

While Osinski is part of these three SSERVI member teams, again listed with their research topics and principal investigators:

• Field Investigations to Enable Solar System Science and Exploration; Jennifer Heldmann, Ames.

• Inner Solar System Impact Processes; David Kring, Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston.

• Evolution and Environment of Exploration Destinations: Science and Engineering Synergism; Carle Pieters, Brown University in Providence, R.I.

The remaining SSERVI member teams, listed with their research topics and principal investigators, are:

• Volatiles, Regolith and Thermal Investigations Consortium for Exploration and Science; Ben Bussey, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.

• Dynamic Response of Environments at Asteroids, the Moon, and Moons of Mars; William Farrell, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

• Remote, In Situ and Synchrotron Studies for Science and Exploration; Timothy Glotch, Stony Brook University in New York.

• Institute for Modeling Plasma, Atmospheres and Cosmic Dust; Mihaly Horanyi, University of Colorado in Boulder, Colo.

SSERVI will be funded jointly by the Planetary Science and Advanced Exploration Systems divisions.

For more information about SSERVI and selected member teams, please visit https://sservi.nasa.gov