The Student Planetary Investigators program

Attention Lunar Explorers!

How would you like your students gain real-world experience while conducting authentic scientific research, all from the comforts of your classroom or even home? The Student Planetary Investigators program is waiting for your participation!

The Student Planetary Investigator (PI) Program was created by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) Space Department Education and Public Outreach office with support from NASA mission and instrument science and engineering teams. Student teams will have the opportunity to explore the moon in new and exciting ways! From analyzing future landing sites, to exploring craters for possible water, or to just simply conduct geologic research about the moon, your students will gain valuable experience through the Student PI program!

The program is free and open to teams of students across the country, high school through college. Student PI provides students with authentic research experiences in the classroom. The program is conducted via distance learning technologies and is designed to provide maximum flexibility for student teams while they work directly with NASA mission scientists. Live sessions are mostly conducted during after school hours; the sessions are archived for teams that wish to watch at alternate times. Students communicate regularly with peers and science team members through live sessions and an online bulletin board that is moderated by the Student PI Program manager.

Exploring the Moon
The Student PI Program focuses on the Mini-RF instrument. Mini-RF, which stands for Miniature Radio Frequency, is a radar instrument orbiting the Moon on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. It is mapping the lunar poles, searching for water ice and demonstrating new communications technologies. What it finds will support future missions to the Moon. Student PI participants make authentic contributions to this effort. Students (under mentor guidance) join the science team in analyzing real Mini-RF data, using the same software and techniques the mission scientists use. Students develop hypothesis and projects based on data analysis, later presenting their work for peer and science team review.

For more information on Student PI, e-mail

You can also visit for more information. To apply to participate, complete the form at

Brian Grigsby
Coordinator, Student PI