NASA Names Interim Lunar Science Institute Director


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MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. - David Morrison has been appointed interim director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute, based at the Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., effective immediately. A nationwide search for a permanent director is under way.

A world-renowned planetary scientist, Morrison currently serves as senior scientist at the Ames-based NASA Astrobiology Institute. The Lunar Science Institute will be modeled after the Astrobiology Institute, with teams across the nation working together to help lead the agency's research activities related to NASA's exploration goals.

The Lunar Science Institute will fund interdisciplinary science and exploration research teams to conduct basic lunar science, as well as astronomical, solar and Earth science investigations that can be performed from the moon. Institute teams also will provide a quick-response capability in support of NASA's Exploration initiative. The new institute is scheduled to begin operations by March 1.

"I am delighted that David Morrison has agreed to take on this challenge and responsibility. The Science Mission Directorate is looking forward to working with him in the coming months," said Alan Stern, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington.

Morrison, who obtained his Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard University, has written more than 155 technical papers and published a dozen books. He has worked at Ames since 1988, as chief of the space science division and director of the space directorate at the center.

Morrison previously was on the faculty of the University of Hawaii. He is the recipient of the Dryden Medal for research of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Sagan Medal of the American Astronomical Society for public communication, and the Klumpke-Roberts award of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for contributions to science education. He also has received two NASA Outstanding Leadership medals and the Presidential Meritorious Rank.

"David Morrison is an Ames institution and a pillar of the planetary research community, having served as a scientist on NASA's Mariner, Voyager and Galileo missions," said S. Pete Worden, Ames center director. "His experience at the NASA Astrobiology Institute and his communication and management skills are just the talents we need to ensure early success for the NASA Lunar Science Institute."

Before the arrival of a permanent director, Morrison will be responsible for completing the first call for institute proposals through a cooperative agreement announcement later this spring.

"Creating a new and innovative program in lunar science is an exiting prospect, which I am thrilled to take on," said Morrison. "I am confident that the formation of the NASA Lunar Science Institute will galvanize interdisciplinary research on the moon as the NASA Astrobiology Institute has done for the field of astrobiology, including developing international partnerships and training a new generation of lunar scientists."

NASA announced its intent to establish a new lunar science institute in October 2007. The Lunar Science Institute will augment other, previously established, but smaller, focused lunar science investigations funded by NASA. Work performed by the institute will be conducted at a variety of NASA centers, universities and non-profit organizations across the nation. Institute funding will be allocated based on competitive selection following scientific peer review.

For more information on NASA programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov

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