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PSI’s Yamashita Will Study Lunar Geochemistry On Upcoming Korean Mission




PSI Senior Scientist Naoyuki “Yuki” Yamashita has been selected by NASA to join the upcoming Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) mission, set to launch in August 2022 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 and orbit the Moon for about a year. 

NASA selected nine U.S. scientists to join the mission as part of the agency's KPLO Participating Scientist Program. The new members will work with the spacecraft's five science instruments, which will take measurements of the lunar surface from orbit to learn more about the moon's environment and resources and to identify potential landing sites for future missions. 

KPLO is the first space exploration mission of the Republic of Korea (ROK) that will travel beyond Earth orbit. 

Yamashita will focus on studying lunar geochemistry and prospecting with the KPLO Gamma-Ray Spectrometer, one of five scientific instruments aboard the spacecraft. 

“I am very excited to go back to the Moon, more than 10 years after the Kaguya mission where my career as a planetary scientist started,” Yamashita said. “This time I am hoping to take a look at a broader range of elements that would indicate the history of the Moon and where the potential resources are.” 

In order to complete the tasks as a NASA participating scientist, Yamashita has enlisted the help of a knowledgeable expert, PSI Senior Scientist Thomas H. Prettyman. He will bring in his unique expertise of high throughput calculations of the radiation environment on the Moon, sought by the KPLO mission. 

The three overarching goals of the KPLO mission are realizing the first space exploration mission by ROK, developing and verifying space technologies suitable for deep-space exploration on future missions, and investigating the physical characteristics of the lunar surface to aid future robotic landing missions to the Moon.

Yuki Yamashita

Naoyuki "Yuki" Yamashita

April 18, 2021
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