The recent and current international armada of spacecraft exploring the Moon has provided significant new insight into the nature and evolution of the lunar crust and the structure of the lunar interior. These new data have combined high spatial and spectral resolution data together with high-resolution altimetry and gravity to reveal new minerals and rock types, as well as to help define the locations of concentrations of these types of key deposits that can help in unraveling crustal history and the nature of the geologic processes (impact cratering, volcanism, tectonism, volatile migration and sequestration) that have influenced this evolution. We now know where to go and what to do to:
1) Target more extensive exploration around existing exploration sites (e.g., the Apollo 15 Hadley-Apennine Landing Site) to address the new questions raised by analysis of initial data collected on Apollo 15; What is the history of the lunar magnetic field recorded in the rille wall basalt layers? What is the source of the water-rich green pyroclastic glasses? What is the diversity of deep crustal rock types, as revealed by the 15415 anorthosite? What is the nature of the layering revealed in the Apennine Mountains Silver Spur? What is the distribution and variety of Imbrium basin ejecta as seen in the ancient 15455 shocked norite? What is the diversity of ages and compositions of the mare basalts exposed in the rille walls?.
2) Target new sites such as the floor and central peaks of Theophilus and Copernicus and ask new questions: What is the distribution and nature of shocked and unshocked rocks in central peaks? What is the distribution and origin of olivine-rich rocks in central peaks? What is the mode of occurrence and origin of spinel-rich lithologies? What is the relationships and relative abundances of shocked and unshocked anorthosite in central peaks? What does the chilled boundary layer of a melt sheet look like and how different is it from more slowly cooling melt below? How diverse are impact melt compositions and how much vertical segregation (differentiation?) is observed?
These types of questions and Science Design Reference Missions (DRM) can take advantage of 40 years of technology and operations development since the very successful Apollo exploration mission to formulate new and enhanced exploration concepts. These new developments permit Lunar Human Exploration DRMs that produce longer stay times, more diverse mobility options, increased mobility and exploration radius, significantly more downmass and upmass, improved robotics to free up astronaut time for human exploration optimization, and full lunar access. We review several of these DRMs to underline this new generation of lunar exploration capabilities.