Gordon "Oz" Osinski will work with NASA to determine the mission’s geological science objectives NASA has selected the geology team that will develop the surface science plan for the first crewed lunar landing mission in more than 50 years and Western planetary geologist Gordon "Oz" Osinski is heading to ground control.
"This news feels very surreal and hasn’t really sunk in yet," said Osinski, Earth sciences professor at Western. "To be involved in the first mission back to the surface of the Moon in over 50 years is such an incredible honour."
NASA’s Artemis III mission will land astronauts, including the first woman on the Moon, near the lunar South Pole to advance scientific discovery and pave the way for long-term exploration.
"Science is one of the pillars of Artemis," said Nicky Fox, NASA Science Associate Administrator. "This team will be responsible for leading the geology planning for humanity’s first return to the lunar surface in more than 50 years, ensuring that we maximize the science returns of Artemis and grow in our understanding of our nearest celestial neighbour."
The Artemis III geology team, led by principal investigator Brett Denevi of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, will work with NASA to determine the mission’s geological science objectives and design the geology surface campaign that the Artemis astronauts will carry out on the Moon during this historic mission. These objectives will be defined in accordance with the established Artemis science priorities.
"Before launch, we will be mapping the landing site using satellite images, planning out the paths the astronauts will take, and provide them with guidance on the types of samples to bring back," said Osinski, the only co-investigator on the geology team from a Canadian universit y. The geology team, including Osinski, will be in mission control’s science backroom at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston providing support throughout the mission while the Artemis III astronauts conduct geology on the lunar surface.
"After the mission, we will be the first to see the samples brought back and will carry out a preliminary examination before these samples are made available to the scientific community," said Osinski, who also serves as principal investigator for the Canadensys Aerospace-led lunar rover project, which was announced in 2022.
The collection of samples and data from this region, which contains some of the oldest parts of the Moon, estimated to be at least 3.85 billion years old, will help scientists better understand fundamental planetary processes that operate across the solar system and beyond. The resulting analysis from the geology team’s activities could also help yield important information about the depth, distribution and composition of ice at the Moon’s South Pole. This information is valuable from both a scientific and a resource perspective because oxygen and hydrogen can be extracted from lunar ice to be used for life support systems and fuel.