The work to be done by the VOlatiles, Regolith and Thermal Investigations Consortium for Exploration and Science (VORTICES) team will expand our understanding of the life cycle of volatiles and planetary regoliths as well as their interaction. Our NASA Lunar Science Institute Polar team, the predecessor to the VORTICES team, made great strides in understanding the processes that act on the surface of the Moon to form, deposit, modify and transport volatiles; to form and evolve a regolith; and to understand the geology of the poles. The goal of that team was to transform "Luna Incognita' into "Luna Cognita.' This increased understanding of how such processes operate on a large, low-gravity body with only a tenuous exosphere now places the VORTICES team in a position to extend that work in several directions including the deepening our understanding of the Moon, and addressing the first-order questions for Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs) and Phobos and Deimos, aka "small bodies' in the team's research.
The VORTICES team will expand the NLSI work by: determining whether H2O or OH is the dominant species on lunar and asteroidal surfaces; investigating the processes by which volatiles are created and destroyed; researching compositional dependencies on volatile production; understanding how volatiles are transported across and stored on and within regoliths; understanding the global surface and shallow subsurface thermal regimes on the Moon and small bodies that control volatile transport and storage processes; studying the manner in which regoliths form and evolve and the extent to which thermal fatigue can weaken and fracture rock to form a regolith; examining the space weathering effects of heating, simulated micrometeoroid bombardment, and radiation on the chemistry and spectral signature of regoliths through relevant lunar analogs and different meteorite types; assessing the potential for resource utilization and exploitation; and examining the Strategic Knowledge Gaps (SKG) for the Moon and small bodies and developing potential mission/instrument strategies that best addresses them.
The research is divided in to four themes: 1) Volatiles, 2) Regolith, 3) Resources, and 4) Strategic Knowledge Gaps. The first two themes contain tasks that are more science-centric, but the results will be of value to the exploration community. Similarly, themes 3 and 4 are more exploration focused but they, too, will yield important science. Themes 1 and 2 embody "science enables exploration' while Themes 3 and 4 represent "exploration enables science.' Our integrated research provides insight into the history of volatiles in the solar system; the manner in which regolith forms, evolves, and mixes with volatiles; and sets the stage, by providing fundamental information for the robotic and human exploration and exploitation of the Moon and small bodies.
|Research Themes||Research Tasks|
|1: Volatiles in the Solar System: Sources, Processes, Sinks||1: H Distribution on the Moon and Small Bodies
2: Modeling of Volatile Formation and Deposition
3: Experimental - Modeling of Volatile-Regolith Interaction
4: Thermal Characterization of the Surface and Near-Surface
5: Spectral Characterization of Volatile Species Interaction
|2: Regolith: Origin and Evolution on Airless Bodies||6: Regolith Generation by Thermal Fatigue
7: Lunar and Asteroidal Regolith Properties
8: Thermal and Irradiation Space Weather Processes
|3: Resources: Identification and Exploitation||9: Searching for Resources
10: Illumination Characterization for Surface Operations
|4: Closing Strategic Knowledge Gaps
||11: SKG Analysis
12: Instrument / Mission Concepts