NASA Creates New Virtual Solar System Exploration Institute

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NASA_SSERVI-LOGONASA has selected nine research teams from seven states for a new institute that will bring researchers together in a collaborative virtual setting to focus on questions concerning space science and human space exploration.

The teams participating in the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) will address scientific questions about the moon, near-Earth asteroids, the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos, and their near space environments, in cooperation with international partners.

“We look forward to collaborative scientific discoveries from these teams,” said Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “These results will be vital to NASA successfully conducting the ambitious activities of exploring the solar system with robots and humans.”

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, established at Ames in 2008, to include other solar system destinations.

“SSERVI continues to strengthen the collaboration between exploration and science as we explore the solar system together,” said Jason Crusan, director of the Advanced Exploration Systems Division in NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate in Washington.

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.

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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Field Investigations to Enable Solar System Science and Exploration; Jennifer Heldmann, NASA Ames Research Center, Ca.
  • Institute for Modeling Plasma, Atmospheres and Cosmic Dust; Mihaly Horanyi, University of Colorado in Boulder, Colo.
  • 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.

“We are extremely pleased that the community responded with such high-quality proposals, and look forward to the many contributions SSERVI will make in addressing NASA’s science and exploration goals,” said SSERVI Director Yvonne Pendleton.

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

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

  • Tom Billings

    May this grow and thrive! We certainly have been hoping for it for long enough among those working on Islands in Second Life in activities involving spaceflight.

    It may be that the greatest difficulties experienced in getting more NASA and industry engineers and scientists involved in virtual worlds will be removed for those coordinated through SSERVI. Those have been the unwillingness of supervisors to see virtual worlds as anything but “playing a game while on the clock”, …alongside the real problem that practically every scientist or engineer in the industry knows a friend, nephew, son, or daughter, etc., who has tossed their career away to play things like Worlds of Warcraft, and they don’t want to join them.

    With SSERVI being an “official guide” within NASA, and in activities to be accomplished in virtual worlds, we can hope these problems will be ameliorated.