The Science

The Science

Vision & Mission

LunaSCOPE – a NASA Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) team – is a pioneering research initiative aimed at comprehensively understanding the Moon and its potential for future human exploration. LunaSCOPE, hosted at Brown University, brings together a diverse and international team of lunar science and exploration scholars. Through interdisciplinary research and collaboration, we strive to unlock the mysteries of the Moon and pave the way for exciting future missions and discoveries.

Our mission is to advance the scientific understanding of the Moon, particularly in relation to its origin, evolution, and crucial in-situ resources. By conducting transformative research and cross-disciplinary investigations, LunaSCOPE seeks to contribute to the development of future human exploration and utilization of the Moon. We focus on the quantification and characterization of vital lunar resources, investigating the nature, distribution, and availability of these resources to support future lunar missions.

LunaSCOPE Logo
LunaSCOPE Logo

The Research

The central investigations for LunaSCOPE are organized around thematic areas that span from the formation of the lunar magma ocean to the Moon’s present state, and include:

1. Magma Oceans

The solidification and differentiation of the lunar magma ocean (LMO) was the primary process that created lunar regions that are highly concentrated in useful elements (e.g., H, REE, K, P, Li, Fe, Ti). An improved understanding of LMO differentiation will contribute to more accurate predictions of the spatial distribution and composition of in-situ resources required for lunar exploration, landing site selection, and traverse planning.

2. Magnetism

Internally generated magnetic fields (core dynamos) and regional magnetization of the crust affect volatile loss rates and likely provide shielding for volatiles to stably exist. By investigating the nature of lunar magnetic fields, we can better characterize the conditions that lead to preferential preservation and removal of volatiles across the Moon.

3. Volcanism and Tectonics

Understanding the origin, composition, and distribution of magmatism (both intrusive and extrusive) is key to predicting the distribution of resources on the surface. A full understanding of surface resource distribution requires an integrated research effort involving igneous petrology, volcanology, and lunar orbital and rotational evolution.

4. Volatiles

Detailed knowledge gained of degassing history of the Moon, the volatile content of lunar materials and their associations with regolith processes will quantitatively inform exploration pathways in the search for volatile deposits.

5. Regolith and Impacts

Understanding the character, composition, and thermomechanical state of the lunar regolith across terranes and depths is essential to successful navigation/exploration of the Moon and to inferring accurate compositions of key targets of interest with global mapping.