Apollo 12, 14 and 15 astronauts (ca. 1969-1971) place the Rice Suprathermal Ion Detector (SIDE) on the Moon. Part of the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) deployed near the lunar landing sites, the instrument measures positive ions reaching the lunar surface. The Detector makes the 1st direct observations of water vapor ions near the surface of the Moon and provides the 1st measurements of the electric charge of the lunar surface.
Rice professor of Space Physics and Astronomy John W. Freeman is the principal investigator on the project. Eventually, Freeman receives the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement for SIDE.
Astronauts also deploy the Charged Particle Lunar Environment Experiment (CPLEE) on the Moon. Rice University Research Associate D.L Reasoner is the principal investigator on this project and eventually becomes adjunct professor at Rice.