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Paper: Lunar Exploration Manned and Unmanned
Volume: 272, The Future of Solar System Exploration, 2003-2013: Community Contributions to the NRC Solar System Exploration Decadal Survey
Page: 77
Authors: Spudis, P.D.; Asmar, S.W.; Bussey, D.B.J.; Duxbury, N.; Friesen, L.J.; Gillis, J.J.; Hawke, B.R.; Heiken, G.; Lawrence, D.; Manifold, J.; Slade, M.A.; Smith, A.; Taylor, G.J.; Yingst, R.A.
Abstract: The past decade has seen two global reconnaissance missions to the Moon, Clementine and Lunar Prospector, which have mapped the surface in multiple wavelengths, determined the Moon's topography and gravity fields, and discovered the presence of water ice in the permanently dark regions near the poles. Although we have learned much about the Moon, many key aspects of its history and evolution remain obscure. The three highest priority questions in lunar science are: 1) the Moon's global composition, particularly the abundance of aluminum and magnesium; 2) the extent, composition, and physical state of polar deposits, including the extent, purity, and thickness of ice, the elemental, isotopic, and molecular composition of polar volatiles, the environment of the polar regions; and 3) the cratering chronology of the Moon and the implications of a possibly unique history, such as a cataclysm, for our understanding of other Solar System objects. Answering and addressing these questions require a series of new missions, including an orbiter (carrying XRF, imaging radar, and other instruments), the deployment of surface network stations equipped with seismometers and heat probes, selected robotic sample return missions from geologically simple areas (e.g., youngest lava or crater melt sheet), and complex geological field work, conducted by human explorers. Because the Moon is a touchstone for the history and evolution of other rocky bodies in the solar system, we believe that these questions are of very high scientific priority and that lunar missions should receive much more serious attention and detailed study than they have in the past by the NASA Office of Space Science.
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