The Synergy between Space Astronomy and Exploration

Access to space fundamentally changed astronomy in the latter half of the 20th century. The space environment makes it possible to observe radiation that does not penetrate the earth’s atmosphere, and to carry out observations with greater resolution and stability than possible from the ground. From the Apollo missions to the Space Shuttle, astronomy has benefited from NASA investments in manned space exploration. However, it is challenging to strike a balance between the most cost-effective way to accomplish science in the absence of human exploration, vs. the nation’s desire to have a vital human exploration program. Ideally, the science objectives should not be driven by the human-exploration objectives, but should instead focus on the most important scientific questions. The place where the two enterprises meet is in the development of common infrastructure. At this intersection, both enterprises ought to be willing to make compromises to optimize the overall program. A particularly interesting overlap is the use of the solar-system Lagrange points, which could provide useful transfer points (or destinations) for both solar-system exploration and space astronomy.

As the NASA Moon-Mars exploration program develops, it will be interesting to see how these compromises are worked out.
 Moon-Mars Links

NRC Study: The Scientific Context for the Exploration of the Moon

NASA Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS) report

Detailed critique/commentary on NASA Moon-Mars plans. CEV Alternatives: CBO  TeamVison  Direct  Boeing

Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG)  reports meetings  calendar

Lunar Ice

Lagrange points

Pedagogical, with links

Use of Lagrange points for solar-system exploration and as a lunar gateway

Publications: Martin Lo  Shane Ross 


SAFIR concept  LL1robot.pdf

Orbital Express  ETS-7  Orbital Recovery  Human Interfaces  NASA study