Back to the Moon and on to Mars: Research Challenges in America’s space program

Serena Auñón-Chancellor, M.D.

NASA Astronaut

America’s space program has set forth an ambitious goal: to return to the Moon by 2024 and establish sustainable technology in hopes of someday setting out for the red planet. With space exploration comes an ambitious research portfolio involving multiple fields: life sciences, physical sciences, materials science and biology to name a few. Much of this research is currently being performed by multiple universities, governmental agencies, and private industry on board the International Space Station. In order for the research to run smoothly on an extremely tight timeline every day, there is tremendous coordination between several mission controls across the world, principal investigators, engineers, and scientists.

The goal of this talk is to provide a broad-based understanding of how research has evolved on the International Space Station and the physical challenges of performing science on orbit. It will discuss NASA’s roadmap to both the Moon and exploration class missions towards Mars It will also explain how microgravity itself provides a unique platform for research that cannot be mimicked anywhere on Earth. Finally we will discuss some of the top research concerns in the field of physics, most notably, space radiation.