William P. Jeffs
Johnson Space Center, Houston
RELEASE : J09-001
NASA Names Team of Texas Scientists to Lunar Institute
HOUSTON—NASA has selected a team of scientists from Johnson Space Center and the Lunar and Planetary Institute, both in Houston, as one of seven initial members of the agency's Lunar Science Institute.

The LPI/JSC team will use the latest technology to determine if a storm of bombarding asteroids and comets resurfaced the Earth and moon 3.5 to 4 billion years ago. It will investigate whether any bombardment may have affected the origin and early evolution of life on Earth.

David Kring, visiting scientist for the Lunar Exploration Initiative at the Lunar and Planetary Institute, will lead the team. Faculty and students at the University of Houston and Rice University will be directly involved in the scientific research. In addition, the team has organized a consortium of 12 universities throughout Texas to provide educational opportunities for their students.

"NASA has created a unique opportunity for our team to integrate lunar science with the human exploration program," said Kring. "Our program will help drive the growth of our nation's technical capabilities, while simultaneously creating paths of opportunity for students interested in cutting-edge space science."

The NASA Lunar Science Institute is a new organization that supplements and extends existing NASA lunar science programs. Supported by the NASA Science Mission Directorate and Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, the NLSI is managed by NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

NLSI is modeled on the NASA Astrobiology Institute with teams across the nation working together to help lead the agency's research activities related to lunar exploration goals. Team investigations focus on one or more aspects of lunar science.

Most of the LPI/JSC team's work at Johnson will be conducted by the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Directorate. It will be integrated with the Office for Lunar and Planetary Exploration in the Constellation Systems Program Office.

"I am delighted with the opportunity to be part of one of the initial member teams of the agency’s Lunar Science Institute,” said Eileen Stansbery, director of Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science at JSC. “The NLSI is a very important initiative for NASA’s future. Our research effort builds on our respective institutions' lunar science capabilities and will provide important input for the Constellation Program."

For more information on the NLSI and lunar science, visit:

LPI is managed by the Universities Space Research Association (USRA), a national, nonprofit consortium of universities chartered in 1969 by the National Academy of Sciences at the request of NASA. USRA operates programs and institutes focused on research and education in most of the disciplines engaged in space-related science and engineering. Institutional membership in USRA now stands at 100 leading research universities. More information about USRA can be found at For more information about LPI, visit:

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit:

- end -

text-only version of this release