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Citadel News Service
29 Nov 2010

Physics professor’s moon mission lands in the journal Science

Last fall’s mission to find water on the moon has landed Luke Sollitt, an assistant professor of physics, in the pages of “Science” magazine, a weekly international journal published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Luke Sollitt

Sollitt is part of a team of scientists investigating whether there is water on the moon. The existence of water in large enough quantities would make it possible for human life to be sustained on the moon for future astronaut missions.

Last fall the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite crash landed an unmanned spacecraft in permanently shadowed crater moon’s South Pole. What was kicked up in dust and the sunlight was evidence water.

“We hit an area with about five to six times the water we expected to find. This implies that the water is in a patchy distribution, and that roughly five-sixths of the area is much drier,” Sollitt said.

The mission’s findings are published in Oct. 22 edition of “Science.” Read about the mission here.

“It’s really wonderful to be in ‘Science’,” Sollitt said. “‘Science’ is the premier scientific journal currently in publication.” 

Sollitt came to The Citadel in the fall of 2009 from Northrop Grumman, an aerospace and defense technology manufacturer where he and the other scientists developed the idea of exploring the shadowed regions of the moon in search of water. He is a space physicist by training. His other research interests include properties of lunar and Martian dust, the search for materials of astrobiological significance on planetary bodies, the development of novel instrumentation including laser desorption and LIDAR technology, and planetary astronomy from suborbital platforms. In addition, he has experience with the development NASA science missions.

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