Notes on the 2007 LEAG Workshop: Enabling Exploration
October 1-5,2007
Chair: Dr. Clive Neal of Notre Dame

by Larry J. Friesen

LEAG: Lunar Exploration Analysis Group.

Who are LEAG? A group of scientists charged with giving NASA advice about the Moon-Mars Exploration Vision. Especially about science to be done on the Moon and Mars during manned operations or in preparation for manned operations. Also other areas where their expertise can be brought to bear.

Focus of workshop: To identify barriers and impediments to the realization of the Exploration Vision, and to help find ways to reduce or overcome those barriers. Also to identify potential opportunities for achieving the Vision more quickly, more efficiently, less expensively, or more robustly. This workshop was organized and hosted by the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI).

Monday morning, Oct. 1 was focused on what were called Community Updates. There were briefings by people representing NASA Headquarters from the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD), the Science Mission Directorate (SMD), the Space Operations Mission Directorate, and the Lunar Architecture Team (LAT)-2,.

Among important things I learned were that the architect attributes NASA is seeking are to enable a sustained lunar presence early. NASA also wants to develop infrastructure while engaged in science, exploration, etc., rather than waiting to do one before starting the other. They also seek to develop an open architecture, to make it easier for potential external cooperation, either with other nations or with the private sector.

NASA also says it is looking for a Commercial Orbital Transportation System (COTS). I learned at the workshop that this acronym is a deliberate play on Commercial Off The Shelf, because the aims are similar. Currently, the strongest contender for this is the Falcon 9 launcher.The NASA briefers noted the elements NASA intends to develop itself: the Ares 1 and Ares 5 launch vehicles, the Orion Crew Excursion Vehicle (CEV), and the lunar lander.

For international participation it was noted in Monday morning's briefings that 13 other space agencies which are participating or are interested in participating. Many countries have mature plans, including lunar robotic programs. The next step seen for international cooperation is seen as forming an Exploration Coordination Group.

The ESMD briefer showed animated simulations and actual video of a six-legged rover called ATHLETE (All Terrain Hex-Linked ExtraTerrestrial Explorer). The legs have wheels at their ends. The wheels are used for most movement, because they are more efficient. But in difficult terrain, for instance, crater walls, steep slopes, or pits, the legs can be used to step up, down, or over. The ATHLETE can be deployed with or without a pressurized habitability module on top. It comes equipped with grabber and drill attachments.

One speaker stated that we need to learn where and how to optimize human intervention, because at least with present systems, there is a large overhead for EVA.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Participating Scientist Program was discussed, as were lunar sortie science opportunities.

The LAT-2 briefing started out by reminding everyone that the LAT-1 round had come up with the concept that the program would start with a long term outpost before sorties, most likely at one of the lunar poles. LAT-2 has focused on operations.

The LAT-2 speaker, Geoff Yoder, mentioned that the lunar lander without crew becomes a cargo lander. For the transportation system, their goal is a open architecture, so that anyone can know the parameters and participate, not just NASA.

For the second phase of this activity, they have tried to assess metrics (how do you measure whether one approach is better than another; what criteria do you use), and to compare merits, features, and relative risks of different approaches. Of particular interest is how to make most effective use of crew time on the Moon.

The desired attributes of their architecture are

  • to have a sustained presence early
  • to develop infrastructure while doing science and exploration, and
  • flexibility to redirection.

Each option considered included a long range pressurized rover, although one idea considered has been pairs of small pressurized rovers. They have decided that the Ares V (the heavy lifter) needs a 10-meter diameter payload shroud. Some earlier ideas were for an 8-meter shroud, but it is felt that won't allow enough room for some items they want to launch. They felt they should put their bid in early for adequate volume.

Monday afternoon was for Workshop and Working Group briefings.

First of these was the Constellation Office Briefing. According to Jeff Hanley, their motto is "Lunar sooner", which he indicate means that while designing the Constellation system, they try very hard to keep the requirements for going to the Moon in mind even while they prepare for Earth orbit. They have both a lunar lander design project office and a surface systems project office.

Brad Joliff from the NASA Advisory Council presented recommendations from the Workshop on Science Associated with the Lunar Exploration Architecture that was held in Tempe, Arizona Feb. 27 through March 2 of 2007. In addition to those recommendations, he and his fellow scientists want to continue to have science feedback to the Exploration Office.

Kelly Snook of NASA HQ presented the report of the Outpost Science Exploration Working Group (OSEWG). This is chartered by ESMD & SMD to coordinate science and exploration planning. Two topics she discussed were preserving the integrity of samples gathered on the lunar surface during storage and transportation, and how to "high grade" samples. During the brief Apollo missions, the astronauts were able to fly back to Earth all the samples they collected on the Moon. With a long term outpost, crew members will be able to accumulate a much greater mass of samples that can be transported back to Earth on any one flight. There will be provision for sample storage at or near the outpost, and perhaps some early on-site analysis capability. But instruments on Earth will for the foreseeable future be much more capable. So how do we "high grade" the samples? That is, how do we pick out which samples are most important to send back to Earth quickly?

Mark Helper of the Field Exploration & Analysis Team (FEAT) spoke on the need to start training astronauts now (or as soon as feasible) for field work on the Moon, because it takes time to develop the skill sets to recognize rock types in the field. Some lunar outpost crew members will probably be experienced geologists, but not all.

Daniel Winterhalter reported on a Lunar Dust Workshop. This workshop identified a huge number of issues regarding lunar dust. They are still trying to distill these into a manageable report. He expected a report out in the late October to mid November time frame.

Brett Drake described activity in the Mars Design Reference Architecture. They need long duration tests of crew support systems, to understand the radiation environment and protection systems, and to develop test beds for medical diagnosis and treatment equipment. They also need to understand the response of people to long term exposure to low g, and to develop EVA suits and equipment with autonomous operations in mind.

Tuesday morning focused on international partnerships.

The Canadians, Italians, British, and Japanese are very interested in lunar and Mars exploration. Silvie Espinasse of Italy put forward an idea for a low frequency radio telescope to be deployed as dipoles by robots on the lunar far side. She also mentioned that the Italians were considering a lunar orbiter mission, but did not want to duplicate the orbiter missions already in place, under way, or planned by other nations. She mentioned that they were planning to include a gravity gradiometer in their instrument package, which I do not think is being duplicated by anyone.

Paul Spudis spoke in a very informal capacity about the Indian space program, primarily about their lunar orbiting Chandrayaan-1 mission. He had no official status to speak for them, but he does have an instrument on board Chandrayaan-1, because they invited international participation, and has insight from that experience.

A question was raised about how much the ITAR regulations interfere with cooperation between U.S. and non-U.S. agencies in space activities. They have a side effect of interfering with information exchange between U.S. scientists and their foreign colleagues. The response from a number of representatives from other nations was that the interference was serious.

The Tuesday afternoon session was In Situ Resource Utilization
and Outpost Sustainment Demonstrations.

Jerry Sanders of JSC spoke on NASA's plans for incorporating ISRU and developing it. He stated that ISRU is not initially on the critical path, but that a scalable test system should be flown early. The very first outpost mission will at least need dirt moving capability for ground clearing, berm building, radiation protection, etc. (This is a form of ISRU, although not always thought of as such.) Plans are already in work for scavenging H2 from lander tanks. NASA is also looking at processes for extracting materials from lunar regolith that are robust to the feedstock supplied, and at Al/O2 rockets.

Jean-Claude Piedboeff of the Canadian Space Agency said that for sustained operations, you need to simplify operations and make sure the crew has medical support. He also said that ISRU and mining tap into Canadian expertise, because mining is a major part of the Canadian economy.

Kai Matsui discussed Japan's SELENE mission to the Moon. (SELENE had a successful lunar orbit insertion burn the next day, October 3, during the Workshop.) SELENE will use X-ray and gamma ray spectrometry to assess surface composition, including looking for polar ice. It will also use a multi-band imager in the visible and near-infrared. These techniques will allow analysis of mineral compositions. There is also a terrain camera which will provide stereo pairs of images and a polar lighting map.

Bob Easter of JPL spoke about ideas further out than Jerry Sanders', with potentially bigger payoffs. If the lunar lander lands with empty ascent stage tanks, it can't abort to orbit on descent, and abort to orbit is a highly desired capability for crew safety. He discussed payoffs of a different refueling architecture and a different surface campaign architecture.

Larry Clark, from the Space Resources Technical Committee of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics offered AIAA's take on ISRU. Near-term (before 2020) requirements include regolith excavation and transport. We need to transition to larger scale tests of extraction processes, not just lab scale. We need to develop dust tolerant valves, seals, bearings, and joints. We also need to develop a road map for what technologies need to be ready when.

Rod Wilks spoke about how additional international and commercial precursor missions can enhance current exploration efforts.

During the question and answer portion of the session, David McKay of JSC described processes they are developing using microbes to extract useful materials from lunar regolith. He was one of the authors of a poster about biotechnology at the lunar outpost and beyond. These are very low mass systems.

The first part of Wednesday morning was devoted to the role of robotic missions.

Jeff Taylor of the University of Hawaii discussed possible roles for state governments in space exploration activities.

Later in the session, Frank Schowengerdt discussed how the state of Hawaii is involved through PISCES (the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems). To be sustainable, a program needs to benefit society. You can get people to participate through states. You also need state participation for affordability, and states can work with international entities. Possible state roles include education, promotion, recruitment (of people and companies), incubation (providing an environment where industries and companies can get their feet on the ground and get ready to stand on their own), and infrastructure development. Jeff Taylor added that in Hawaii, they are developing a small satellite launch capability.

Tony Lavoie of Marshall Space Flight Center discussed NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). LRO will be a polar mapper at 50 km altitude. They expect global coverage at 100 meter resolution. He also discussed LCROSS, a Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite, and a new lunar mapping project which is a tool to inform the Constellation program. They plan to use open source software for the mapping project, so that anyone can use it, and anyone can see the data.

Paul Spudis mentioned that some techniques for robotic missions had not been given sufficient consideration. Purposes for robotic missions include:

  • gaining strategic knowledge
  • providing programmatic milestones
  • emplacement of assets before human presence
  • helping set precedence among potential outpost sites.

It is also desirable to characterize processes and environments likely to be changed by human presence (e.g. the lunar atmosphere). Possible techniques for robotic missions include orbiters, landers, surface rovers, global or regional sensor networks, and sample returns. A new technique which he felt had not been given enough thought before is multiple hard landers. Paul said that to sustain the political environment necessary to keep the lunar/Mars program alive, we really need a campaign of robotic missions, not just one. In addition to providing much needed data, frequent activity will keep the Moon alive in the minds of the public and Congress, keeping people aware that activity is actually happening and that progress is being made. [This is a point of view I thoroughly agree with. L. J. Friesen]

Alan Westin of NASA Ames spoke on using small spacecraft in support of the lunar exploration program. He discussed a lander of around 130 kg and an orbital module of the same vehicle family. These are spacecraft that cost millions, not billions, of dollars, and take 12 to 24 months of development and preparation time, not 48 to 72 months.

Robert Kelso of JSC put forward an idea for an aggressive lunar science campaign enabled by commercial leveraging. He was thinking of a COTS-like approach. His is a hybrid model involving both private enterprise and NASA, with the idea of conducting lunar science and exploration via regular small missions to the Moon. He finds he isn't having to go searching for many commercial opportunities; people are coming to him. To qualify for the program he is working on, a proposal has to meet a NASA need, it must attract external funding (not be funded by NASA only), and it must have customers beyond NASA. He is looking for technology demonstrations, not technology development.

The second part of Wednesday morning and continuing into the afternoon dealt with how to involve commerce in the lunar enterprise. The morning dealt with incremental infrastructure development. The portion after lunch dealt with incremental application development.

Paul Eckert of Boeing outlined an approach to developing lunar relevant commerce one step at a time and paying for it one step at a time. An important key is product diversification. His is a milestone based, incremental approach. A business would start by selling a product to an existing market. Next, develop a new product (say, a lunar product) for an emerging market. Then sell both the legacy and new products simultaneously. There may be transitional periods when it will be appropriate to have public-private partnerships. However, such partnerships must be equitable, in the sense that each side must bear an appropriate share of cost and risk.

Tom Taylor of Lunar Transportation Systems talked about commercial transportation and lunar surface mining. He pointed out that there are companies that collectively bring $20 billion a year to private ventures. He proposed innovations such as reusing tanks that have already been landed on the lunar surface. Another was to use a lunar lander as a drill stand, when deep drilling for research cores is desired. He discussed transport of non-essential cargo, and cargo of odd shapes or that is over the standard weight limit. He also discussed possible transport legs and nodes, and recommended containerized cargo. He discussed public-private partnerships, aka government-corporate alliance.

Tom Taylor brought experience from operations on the North Slope of Alaska. He found that no single transportation system worked all the time. The solution there, and one he recommends for the Moon, was to have at least 2 systems. Logistic systems are important. Sometimes you need something quick. In the North Slope case, labor intensive work was done in a low cost area (the lower 48 states) where possible. He found it was vital to make connections removable. He also recommended using good bar codes and good "plug and play" marking. Arctic engineering is different from regular engineering; lunar engineering will also be. He recommended we should start appropriate engineering courses in colleges and universities.

Dallas Bienhoff of Boeing made a presentation about orbital propellant depots very similar to one he made earlier this year at the ISDC in Dallas. He showed the value to NASA of having a propellant depot in orbit, and showed what an operational architecture with one would look like. He also showed what the propellant depot itself would look like. If NASA could launch some of its lunar transportation system empty, and fuel them in orbit, it could send much more mass to the Moon, and open up some additional abort options. Dallas pointed out that there are other potential customers for propellant than just the NASA Moon program.

Frank Toti pointed out that taking advantage of terrestrial developments can allow space programs to have shorter design cycles.

Dallas Bienhoff then made another presentation, about steps that can be taken toward a goal of 1 gigawatt (GW) of electric energy on and from the Moon by 2020. This involves a process of creating solar cells out of lunar regolith that has been demonstrated on Earth.

Robert Richards of MDA, a large Canadian space company, mentioned that missions of opportunity are important.

Wednesday afternoon began with Manny Pimenta of Lunar Explorer, LLC describing the Lunar Explorer software package that he has developed. It is a simulation of the entire Moon. I understand that it can offer a view of the Moon from a variety of directions, or you can get a view as if you were standing on the surface at a specified locality. If you specify that you are at the Apollo 11 landing site, for instance, it will show you a view of what you would see if you were standing at that spot, in any direction you choose to look: a "you are there" experience. Pimenta has used the best available data about the Moon to create this package; he started with Clementine data. The system supports, but does not require, a full 3-D head mounted display. Lunar Explorer can be used as a training tool for future lunar outpost crew members, but the first edition is also available to the public at $39.95 per copy. The requirements your computer needs to have to support the package can be found on their Web site. Features in work to be added for future releases include a "lunar rover races" gaming feature, and a vision for a hypothetical future lunar city.

Luke Erikson of the Colorado School of Mines discussed the possibility of collecting meteorites on the surface of the Moon (recall that the Mars rovers have found meteorites on the surface of Mars). He also discussed how this might be done as a commercial venture.

Bob Richards discussed how lunar commercial communications might be enabled by the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA).

Ken Davidson of NASA headquarters discussed letting NASA see itself as a customer for commercial space capabilities. He wants to encourage the development of whole industries, not just single companies. He discussed barriers to entry into the space business, and policies that can affect these. Competitions and prizes are among the things that can encourage space related activity. Encouragement of space commerce ought, in his mind, to be a major policy issue.

Thursday morning dealt with sample return and lunar exploration.

Charles Shearer of the University of New Mexico discussed the synergy between sample return and other types of observations. Sample return provides ground truth, high spatial resolution, and high precision. Orbital science can provide global context. Surface science can give provide mechanical properties, detailed surface geology (and thus more ground truth), and allow placement of instrument networks. Lab instruments on Earth are not limited in mass or power. Analysis of returned samples can be iterative and not limited by preconceived ideas. Researchers can re-analyze if they get unexpected or ambiguous results. And you can use new technology when it comes along.

Gary Lofgren of JSC discussed sample contamination issues. You must follow up containers and tools through manufacture. Even if you order a box or a tool made to a certain specification or of a certain material, it was found on Apollo that if you didn't keep an eye on the workers, they often didn't grasp the reason and would go back to making things the way they were used to.Jeff Taylor and Paul Spudis said that it is important to have well stated goals to decide what kind of samples are needed. It is important to have field work, either robotic or human. There will be a need for some level of in situ analysis. An advantage of humans is that they can return to specific field sites.

Dean Eppler of JSC discussed again the issue of how to decide from among a large mass of samples which to bring back to Earth. He also discussed what sort of analysis capacity will be needed on the Moon. It will be important to have a practical means of documenting the samples collected, to keep track of precisely when and where each was obtained.

Kelly Snook reported about an OSEWG meeting regarding sampling issues.

Thursday afternoon dealt with the role of technology in field exploration and astronaut training.

Dean Eppler had interviewed Apollo astronauts, with special attention to those who had been on the lunar surface. Among the feedback and recommendations he got from them included: Design equipment to fit the task, not vice versa. Allow more crew autonomy in mission and task planning. Do not have such rigid schedules as in Apollo. This will be especially important for crews that are on the Moon for months, rather than days, at a time. EVA's of 7 to 8 hours are doable, and could be done every day or every other day on a 7 day mission (it might be advisable to space them out more on longer missions). Suit mass is not a big deal on the Moon; it will be on Mars. Suits must be maintainable and durable. Every astronaut liked the Apollo suit life support system. Dust exposed equipment should be separated from living quarters. Strong emphasis was put on custom fitting gloves. This can make the difference between working effectively and injuring the wearer's hands.

Tool stowage needs to be looked at. Rovers should be made repairable. The astronauts found that manipulating tools caused fatigue, so some thought needs to be given to tool design for lunar surface use. There also need to be systems (containers, labeling system, etc.) that will allow crew members to handle lunar samples they collect on the run. Experiments should be sturdy, not easily broken.

Crew members should train hard! Crew, equipment, and whatever else is connected with the mission should be integrated.

Gary Lofgren spoke about how Apollo crew members were trained. He talked about what they did, why it worked, and what can be done better. He described the training of Apollo crews as fundamentally the geologic training of engineers (as test pilots, the early astronauts had a lot of engineering background). He discussed problem solving: the geologic thought process in the field. One important part of training was developing a common language, so that everyone was familiar with geological terms, everyone (trainers, geologists, astronauts) described tasks in the same way, etc. The surface crew members need observational skills, and to be able to describe what they see systematically. Routine procedures that need to be trained for include: navigation, sample collecting, sample documentation, and driving core tubes. Repetition is important, so that essential actions are second nature. You need to train the crew, the CAPCOM, and supporting scientists together. Classes are needed in Moon rocks and rock type recognition. It is best to keep soil samples separate from rocks. One thing lacking in Apollo that would be desirable are simple field analysis tools.

Duane Ross described current astronaut candidate geology training. Geology is still a part of astronaut training, because although no crews are currently going to the Moon or Mars, they often have opportunities to observe Earth from orbit.

Jake Maule discussed tools existing or in development that could be used on the surface of the Moon or Mars. One is a "lab-on-a-chip" that uses biological systems to perform chemical analysis of samples. Another is an X-ray diffraction instrument. He discussed examples of hand held portable instruments. Maule pointed out that when optimizing human-robot coordination, it is worth noting that humans and robots tend to operate on different time scales.

Brian Wilcox of JPL discussed a concept for mobile habitats, mounted on the ATHLETE wheel-on-leg carrier described above. In one extreme scenario, this mating would allow extreme mobility for the Outpost crew, because the Outpost could be moved wherever and whenever you wanted. More modestly, moving habitats even a small distance from the lunar lander's touchdown point could mitigate problems associated with landing debris ejecta. This mobility system could also provide a means to mate up habitats. Wilcox also showed designs for a small pressurized rover. This could accommodate four, but would normally go out with two crew members. For EVA, crew members could enter spacesuits from the back, suits that were "hard mounted" onto the vehicle. EVA crew would not have to operate an airlock. If two such vehicles went out together, they could go beyond "walk back" distance from the Outpost, because if one broke down, the other could get all four crew members home.

Charles Weisbin of JPL spoke on collaborative human-robot science exploration on the lunar surface. He raised questions about how we compare various modes of human-robot interaction. What figures of merit are best? His research group at JPL has developed a computer decision tree tool to aid such evaluations.

Friday morning's session dealt with site selection and the lunar outpost.

Jeff Plescia of Applied Physics Laboratory was the first speaker. In his view, environmental conditions such as lighting and thermal conditions may be paramount for outpost site selection. Because the objective is sustained presence, science is unlikely to be the main driver for site choice, except for sorties (in this context, a sortie is not a surface excursion out away from the outpost, but a crewed mission from Earth to a lunar location other than the outpost). Some aspects of the environment will only be found in polar locations, others only in non-polar locations, and some will be found everywhere. Regolith physical properties vary as much within a given site as between sites. Environment properties that are spatially dependent include lighting, thermal properties, and topography. In addition, certain bands require lower delta-V to reach than others.

Dave Beaty of JPL spoke about "feed forward" to Mars and what implications that has for lunar outpost site selection and activities to be carried out there. He would like to see at least three human missions to Mars, one to each of the three great geologic eras identified on Mars: Noachian, Hesperian, and Amazonian. Such missions will need to do as much science as possible on Mars, so they will need an on-Mars lab. In this context, multi-site (sortie) operations on the Moon are better for preparing for Mars than an outpost. We will need to practice ISRU on the Moon, especially that related to extracting and recycling hydrogen and water.

John Gruener reviewed the last 20 years worth of thinking about lunar outpost site selection.

Rick Tumlinson of the Space Frontier Foundation spoke on site selection and commercial opportunities. He mentioned Extreme Space, a company that has developed the first privately funded spacesuit. He also mentioned a book he and Erin Medlicott edited titled Return to the Moon. In his view, sustainability is not enough; an outpost needs prosperity and growth. For that, he thinks multiple revenue streams will be needed. He raised the question as to which of the lunar poles, north or south, would be the better economic choice for an outpost. He prefers to select resource rich and energy rich areas for candidate outpost locations. Entertainment value might also be a consideration; for instance, locations with photogenic scenery or good views of Earth, because entertainment may become a revenue stream. We should design every item flown to the Moon to be re-used or recycled by others later. He recommends a second base on the lunar far side, but within reasonable travel distance of the near side base. He thinks those who favor a lunar base must engage the public and Congress. He also advocated a position he had taken earlier in the year at the International Space Development Conference (ISDC) in Dallas. He said that from now on, NASA's job should start in low Earth orbit. His phrase was, "NASA should not buy the rocket, they should buy the ride." He pointed out that private sector rockets are being built.

[Comments by the Reporter, Larry J. Friesen]

I have a response to Tumlinson's last recommendation. [Are you reading this, Rick?] The catch phrase "Buy the ride, not the rocket" sounds good in principle. But after the Workshop, I began to have second thoughts. Yes, there are a number of private initiatives to develop launch vehicles. But to launch a full-up Orion CEV for the Moon-Mars Initiative, with its service module, an Ares-1 will have to be something on the order of a Saturn I class launch vehicle. Maybe not quite so capable, but in that ball park. I am not aware of any private launch vehicle initiatives currently in that weight class.

Now, if NASA says to the corporate world: "If someone develops a launch vehicle that can launch an Orion to orbit, we will buy rides from them," are we asking someone to, in effect, "bet their company" that they will be able to do it. Historically, the cost to develop a vehicle is roughly proportional to its weight, so the development cost for an Ares will be much higher than for, say, Elon Musk's Falcon. On top of that, there are lots of payloads for a Falcon class vehicle if government payloads don't pan out. Other than Orion, how many payloads are there that would require a Saturn I or Ares I class vehicle to launch them? Would "buying the ride" be a fair risk to ask of the investor community in this situation?

I raised this question in discussions with people attending the American Astronautical Society's National Meeting in Houston November 12-14, seeking people whom I hoped would have insight into the topic. The responses I heard seemed to indicate that yes, we would be asking someone to "bet the company" to develop something in the Ares I class.

Bill Larson of NASA discussed how ISRU might affect outpost site selection. He said that we can make all the products currently specified in the architecture, in the quantities required, anywhere on the Moon. This means that ISRU won't be a primary site selection driver.

[Comments byweb editor, PeterKKokh: This remark totally ignores the differences between highland and mare regolith, discounts the value of KREEP-enriched soils which occur only in certain places, etc. ISRU should affect site selection.]

We should scavenge descent stages of lunar landers for fluids, tanks, and materials, and I believe plans are already in work for much of this. He talked about mission consumables production (oxygen, water, etc.), site preparation, and outpost deployment and emplacement. Preparation for outpost self sufficiency and growth should include capability for fabricating items. This will help prepare for Mars. He discussed how outpost location on the Moon might affect power availability. Looking forward to Mars, it would be useful to learn how to produce methane from hydrogen and trash.

Robert Gershman of JPL talked about the lunar site selection process in LAT-2. Safety requirements were a high priority. They wanted at least a 2 km circle with slopes less than 9 degrees, and a 95% probability of no rocks larger than 1 meter (during Q&A, some audience members familiar with the lunar surface suggested that the "no rocks" requirement might be a difficult one to fulfill). They wanted a sun elevation angle of 1° or greater for more than 12 hours of each lunar day over the landing area. They wanted the longest possible eclipse interval to be 122 hours, and all arrival delta-Vs to be less than 1,000 meters per second (I presume this meant the vector difference between lunar arrival velocity and the desired low lunar orbit that passes over the landing site). They also desired a natural barrier between the landing zone and the outpost, to minimize problems from dust kicked up by the lunar lander's engines.

Brad Joliff of Washington University spoke about science criteria for lunar outpost site selection.

On Friday afternoon, we had reports from the moderators of the individual sessions, and general discussion.

Someone mentioned that an Apollo click map of the Moon will soon be available, and will be frequently updated with information gained from new missions.

Those attending decided that they wanted to put forth a lunar exploration goals document from this LEAG workshop.

Jeff Taylor raised the question of how much margin in mission planning can we "buy down" with a campaign of precursor missions.

A consensus was reached that the LEAG should "push back" against NASA's assertion that ISRU is not in the "critical path" for the lunar initiative. The original mission statement for the lunar initiative was to return to the Moon "to stay". We reached near-unanimous agreement that while ISRU is not in the critical path to get to the Moon, it is absolutely in the critical path to stay, if we wish to sustain human presence on the Moon for the long term. NASA may still elect to delegate most of this task to outside sources &endash; other nations or private industry &endash; rather than develop it in-house, but it is most definitely on the critical path.

I did not have opportunity to attend the poster sessions Wednesday and Thursday evening, but I did wander in to the poster room from time to time and looked at some individual posters. I picked up a handout from one poster that went into greater detail on the use of biological systems for ISRU. Among specific opportunities mentioned were the use of methanogenic bacteria for carbon recycling, and phototrophic bacteria to scrub CO2 and release oxygen for the life support system.

Finally the LPI announced at the Workshop a new web based information portal to provide access to everything "lunar". The purpose for this web site is to aid the lunar science and exploration community in working on the lunar initiative. It is meant to be accessible to a wide range of users, including exploration architects, lunar scientists, students, and the public. ###

FINAL REPORT of the LEAG Workshop on Enabling Exploration:

"The Lunar Outpost and Beyond"

The final report of the recent LEAG Workshop, held October 1-5, 2007, in Houston, Texas, is now available for download (pdf) on the LEAG website:



Copyright © 2000-2009 The Moon Society. All Rights Reserved.
Questions and comments to:

Submit a Request to update this page