Department of Physics and Astronomy
Stony Brook University
7:30 pm; ESS Building, Room 001
Friday, Sept 5, 2014

Science and Exploration of the Moon enabled by Stony Brook's RIS4E Team

Prof. Tim Glotch

The Remote, In Situ, and Synchrotron Studies for Science and Exploration (RIS4E) team is one of nine nodes of NASA’s new Solar System Exploration and Research Virtual Institute. Our team is addressing key aspects of the science and exploration of the Moon and other Solar System bodies Using a comprehensive approach to better understand the spectral data of samples and surfaces, how we will one day safely explore those surfaces, and in turn maximize our measurements of all samples, especially small, precious returned samples, RIS4E will produce a wealth of information and a team of well-trained next generation scientists.This talk, as a celebration of International Observe the Moon Night, will provide an overview of the five-year RIS4E effort, which is divided into four main research themes. These themes are:

  1. Preparation for Exploration: Enabling Quantitative Remote Geochemical Analysis of Airless Bodies. The RIS4E team is engaging in studies of remote sensing targets of opportunity, and experimental and theoretical studies to optimize the interpretation of remote sensing data sets, including experimental space weathering studies, simulated lunar/asteroid environment spectroscopic measurements, and tests of advanced spectral unmixing techniques.
  2. Maximizing Exploration Opportunities: Development of Field Methods for Human Exploration. Science-motivated field work is helping us evaluate the role of handheld and portable field instruments for future human exploration of the Moon, enabling rapid, low-risk, comprehensive, and quantitative assessments of the local geology and regolith materials.
  3. Protecting our Explorers: Understanding How Planetary Surface Environments Impact Human Health. Future astronauts will be exposed to harsh environments on the Moon, with potentially harmful but unknown health effects. The RIS4E team is performing experiments to determine the reactivity and toxicity of lunar analog materials, and, eventually, actual lunar samples.
  4. Maximizing Science from Returned Samples: Advanced Synchrotron and STEM Analysis of Lunar and Primitive Materials. The National Synchrotron Light Source II at Brookhaven National Laboratory will be open to conduct experiments in the fall of 2014. This next-generation light source will provide unparalleled chemical and mineralogical analysis of precious lunar and primitive materials, which the RIS4E team is taking advantage of to tightly constrain the oxygen content of the early Solar System.

Timothy Glotch is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geosciences at Stony Brook, where he has been since 2007. He completed his Ph.D. in Geosciences at Arizona State University in 2004 and was a postdoc at Caltech from 2005-2007. His research is focused on using laboratory spectroscopic techniques and sophisticated light scattering models to enable more quantitative interpretation of spectroscopic data sets. This work includes using laboratory visible/near-infrared reflectance, thermal infrared emission, and Raman spectroscopies, both on remote sensing platforms and in the laboratory, to determine the composition of geologic materials on the surfaces of the Moon, asteroids, Mars, and its moons. He has received NASA group achievement awards for his work with the Odyssey THEMIS and MER Mini-TES instruments that have flown to Mars and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment. He is a Co-Investigator on Diviner, which has been orbiting the Moon since 2009. In 2012, he was awarded the National Science Foundation Early Career Award. He is the Principal Investigator of the $5.5M Remote, In Situ, and Synchrotron Studies for Science and Exploration (RIS4E) team, which is part of NASA's Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI).