The Network for Exploration and Space Science (NESS) is a multifaceted, multidisciplinary, and innovative investigation in the space sciences, including the areas of astrophysics and heliophysics that are enabled through human and robotic exploration of the target bodies. 

We are a team of researchers, educators, and students at leading universities in the U.S. and abroad, NASA centers, aerospace industry, and international research laboratories. We have worked together for nearly a decade as part of the previous NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI) Lunar University Network for Astrophysics Research (LUNAR) team. NESS will take advantage of our collaborative research history to pursue new research and student training at the nexus between exploration and space science.

NESS will address core themes in space science and exploration answering central questions about: teleoperation of space and planetary surface assets to deploy science/exploration instruments, space and planetary dust environs, energetic and potentially life-threatening radiation from the Sun and other stellar systems, the core and thermal history of the Moon, the search for life on exoplanets, the formation of the first luminous objects in the early Universe, and the nature of gravitation and dark matter/energy. Our research is a priority identified by the National Research Council (NRC) reports, including the decadal surveys in astrophysics, space physics, planetary science, and international planning reports such as the Global Exploration Roadmap

The significance of the partnership between science and exploration is reflected in the overarching questions that we will pursue:

  • Exploration enabled by Surface Telerobotics

    • How can exploration infrastructure facilitate space science at target destinations?

  • Radio Heliophysics 

    • How do variations in the Sun’s activity, interplanetary plasmas, and inputs from the interstellar medium influence the energetic particle and dust environment of space and exploration target bodies?

  • Cosmic Dawn 

    • What were the first objects to light up the universe and when did they do it?

  • Extrasolar Space Weather

    • How can lunar radio arrays enable the detection and characterization of exoplanets and their magnetic environments?