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SwRI-led Center for Lunar Origin and Evolution selected to be part of NASA Lunar Science Institute

January 13, 2009 — A team led by Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) has been selected by NASA to be a founding member of the agency's new Lunar Science Institute. The new Center for Lunar Origin and Evolution (CLOE) will help build fundamental knowledge of the history of the Moon and, by inference, the Earth and the rest of the Solar System.

CLOE is one of seven teams selected by NASA as the first members of the Lunar Science Institute (NLSI), which is dedicated to advancing the field of lunar science. The $6 million, four-year, SwRI-led effort focuses on expanding knowledge on the formation and bombardment history of the Moon.

"Unlike the Earth, which has been heavily processed, the Moon still bears the scars from the era when the planets formed," says CLOE Principal Investigator Dr. William Bottke, assistant director of the Space Studies Department of the SwRI Planetary Science Directorate in Boulder, Colo. "CLOE will bring a multidisciplinary approach to unraveling the origin of the Earth-Moon system and the early evolution of the solar system."

Dr. Robin Canup, executive director of the Planetary Science Directorate, adds, "Our participation in NLSI moves our group in an exciting new direction, and we look forward to contributing to NASA's new lunar science initiative."

CLOE research focuses on three scientific themes, including the formation of the Moon through a giant collision with the early Earth, the early bombardment history of the Moon, and changes in the comet and asteroid impact rate over time. The research brings together expertise in a wide range of fields, including the study of planet and satellite formation (in collaboration with the University of Arizona and the Carnegie Institution for Science); analysis of the oldest minerals on Earth, the Moon and meteorites (in partnership with the University of Colorado Department of Geological Sciences); and modeling of the evolution of comets and asteroids that have hit the Moon. Team members, in collaboration with educators at the Denver School for Science and Technology, the Summer Science Program and the Lunar and Planetary Institute, will work to encourage and excite future lunar scientists, educators and the public.

The NLSI, managed by NASA's Ames Research Center, is a "virtual" institute whose members are distributed at universities and research institutes across the United States. NLSI is supported by the Science Mission Directorate and Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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For more information contact Maria Stothoff at (210) 522-3305, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, 6220 Culebra Road, San Antonio, TX 78238-5166.