A Next Generation Lunar Orbiter mission

Bulletin of the AAS
By: , and 



The Moon is the scientific foundation for our knowledge of the early evolution and impact history of the terrestrial planets. Over the last decades the lunar science community has made significant progress in addressing key lunar science and exploration goals, while defining many new high-priority scientific questions regarding the formation and evolution of the Moon. On a broad scale, the last Planetary Decadal Survey defined three scientific objectives to guide studies of the inner planets and Moon. These objectives address the origins and diversity of terrestrial planets, the evolution of life on terrestrial planets, and climate processes on Earth-like planets [1]. Many of these objectives carry forward into exploration goals of a renewed lunar human exploration program, and urgently addressing these objectives will enable the rapid development of exploration plans. A large (Flagship or New Frontiers class) Next Generation Lunar Orbiter (NGLO) mission would address the last Planetary Decadal Survey objective of understanding the origin and diversity of terrestrial planets by studying the geochemistry and geology of the Moon at an unparalleled resolution compared to other lunar mission datasets. Also, NGLO would address the objective of studying the evolution of life on terrestrial planets by furthering knowledge about the composition and distribution of volatile elements on the lunar surface and better characterizing the past and present-day impact rates in the inner Solar System in order to better understand the original delivery of water to Earth. Key exploration goals, including identifying the nature and distribution of lunar volatiles (i.e., water, ice), mapping and characterizing potentially valuable lunar resources, and establishing a human presence on the Moon, also would be addressed by NGLO.

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Title A Next Generation Lunar Orbiter mission
Series title Bulletin of the AAS
DOI 10.3847/25c2cfeb.8f28f012
Volume 53
Issue 4
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher National Academy of Sciences
Contributing office(s) Astrogeology Science Center
Description Whitepaper #330, 8 p.
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype Federal Government Series
Larger Work Title Planetary science and astrobiology decadal survey 2023-2032
Other Geospatial Moon
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