Planetary Science Institute Gets $5.5 Million NASA Grant

By Sara Hammond
Published: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - 9:25am
Updated: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - 9:28am
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(Photo via @planetarysci - Twitter)
The Planetary Science Institute is a nonprofit based in Tucson.

Tucson planetary science researchers will help NASA plan future robotic and human missions to the moon and beyond.

The Planetary Science Institute received one of four awards to explore scientific questions about the moon, near-Earth asteroids and the Martian moons, targets for future exploration.

Amanda Hendrix leads the project to study the properties of fine-grained dust covering the surface of space bodies that have no atmosphere. She said the dust can — hide elements on the surface that can be useful to explorers.

“So when we go to these bodies we’re going to want to eventually be able to find and utilize substances like oxygen and hydrogen for water so that we can either find and utilize water or make it in place there for fuel purposes and also oxygen for breathing and water for drinking," said Hendrix.

Hendrix’ team also will build and test a robotic rover with instruments that could be sent on a planetary mission.

The $5.5 million grant from NASA will support project scientists and students in more than a dozen states and in Canada and Germany.

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