ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Ahead of their next moon mission, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has selected five teams from across the country to collaborate on lunar science and sample analysis research, and the University of New Mexico (UNM) will be involved.

A UNM research team will soon be working on NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI). The team members joining the virtual institute each come from different backgrounds.

The Center for Advanced Sample Analysis of Astromaterials from the Moon and Beyond (CASA Moon) is led by Dr. Charles “Chip” Shearer at UNM and will decipher the origin, evolution, and chronology of the ancient lunar crust through sample analysis. The team will join researchers from Providence, RI; Boulder, CO; Laurel, MD; and Atlanta, GA.

“I’m incredibly excited to welcome our new SSERVI Teams,” said Greg Schmidt, SSERVI’s director at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California. “Their wide variety of experience in a broad range of lunar sciences will add to the great science we’re already accomplishing and contribute immensely to Artemis and a new era of landed missions on the Moon as we progress toward a sustainable future on the Moon and eventually, Mars.”

Research scientist Steve Simon said this is the first time he’s been part of a project this big, and he is looking forward to the opportunity.

“We’ll learn more details about the evolution of the moon and the original crust, get better information on the mineral compositions and their ages,” said Simon.

According to a NASA press release, SSERVI will support each of these teams for five years with $1.5 million in funding each year. The money is coming from both NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate. These five teams join eight other teams, who have been with the SSERVI since 2019.

“This is really a unique opportunity for students both graduate and undergraduate,” said Shearer, “They [will] be working in some of the very unique and internationally well-known labs on campus.”

The team hopes to have students selected by the end of this summer and start with the research by fall.