NASA identifies candidate regions on the Moon for the next Artemis III landing with Americans

NASA Identifies Candidate Regions on Moon for Landing Artemis III With Next Americans

As NASA prepares to send astronauts back to the Moon under Artemis, the agency has identified 13 candidate landing areas near the lunar south pole. Each region has several potential landing sites for Artemis III which will be the first of the Artemis missions to bring a crew to the lunar surface, including the first woman to set foot on the Moon.

“Selecting these regions means we are a giant leap closer to returning humans to the Moon for the first time since Apollo,” said Mark Kirasich, deputy associate administrator for the Artemis Expedition Development Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “When we do, it will be unlike any mission that has come before as astronauts venture into dark areas previously undiscovered by humans and lay the groundwork for future long-term stays.”

NASA identified the following candidate areas for the Artemis III lunar landing:

Faustini Rim A, Peak near Shackleton, Connecting Ridge, Connecting Ridge Extension, De Gerlache Rim 1, De Gerlache Rim 2, De Gerlache-Kocher Massif, Haworth, Malpert Massif, Leibnitz Beta Plateau, Nobel Rim 1, Nobel Rim 2, Amundsen rim

Each of these regions lies within six degrees of latitude of the lunar south pole and collectively contains diverse geological features. Together, the regions provide landing options for all potential Artemis III launch opportunities. Specific landing sites are tightly coupled to the timing of the launch window, so multiple areas ensure flexibility to launch throughout the year.

To select the regions, an agency-wide team of scientists and engineers assessed the region near the lunar south pole using data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and decades of publications and lunar science findings. In addition to considering the availability of launch windows, the team evaluated areas based on their ability to accommodate a safe landing using criteria including terrain slope, ease of communication with Earth, and lighting conditions. To determine accessibility, the team also considered the combined capabilities of the Space Launch System rocket, the Orion spacecraft, and the SpaceX-provided Starship human landing system.

All regions are considered scientifically significant due to their proximity to the lunar South Pole, a region that includes permanently shadowed areas rich in resources and unexplored by humans.

“Many of the proposed sites within the regions are located in some of the oldest parts of the Moon, and together with the permanently shadowed regions, provide an opportunity to learn about the history of the Moon,” Sarah Noble said. , , Artemis leads lunar science for NASA’s Planetary Science Division.

The analysis team weighed other landing criteria with specific Artemis III science objectives, including the goal of landing close to a permanently shaded area to allow the crew to operate the Moon while limiting turbulence during landing. . This will allow the crew to collect samples and conduct scientific analysis in an uncontaminated region, which will yield important information about the depth, distribution and composition of confirmed water ice at the Moon’s south pole.

The team identified areas that could serve the purpose of the moonwalk by ensuring proximity to areas with permanent shadows and also by paying attention to other lighting conditions. All 13 regions have sites that provide continuous access to sunlight over a 6.5-day period – the planned duration of the Artemis III surface mission. Access to sunlight is important for a long stay on the Moon because it provides a power source and minimizes temperature variation.

“Developing a blueprint for exploring the solar system means learning how to use the resources we have available, as well as maintaining their scientific integrity,” said Jacob Bleacher, NASA’s chief exploration scientist. “Lunar water ice is valuable from a scientific point of view and also as a resource, because from it we can extract oxygen and hydrogen for life support systems and fuel.”

NASA will discuss 13 areas with the broader science and engineering communities through conferences and workshops to solicit input about the strengths of each area. This feedback will inform future site selections, and NASA can identify additional areas for consideration. The agency will continue to work with SpaceX to confirm Starship’s landing capabilities and assess options accordingly.

NASA will select sites within the regions for Artemis III after identifying the mission’s target launch dates, which determine the transfer trajectory and surface environmental conditions.

Through Artemis, NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, paving the way for a long-term, permanent lunar presence and serving as a stepping stone for future astronaut missions to Mars.


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