NASA has presented 13 possible areas for the manned return to the moon. The potential landing regions are all located at its South Pole and have various things in common that make them particularly worthwhile, explains the US space agency.
The next step is to obtain assessments from scientists and engineers in order to narrow down the selection. The more precise definition of the period in which the manned return to the moon should take place will also help, because this will affect, among other things, what it will look like on the surface.
Craters, mountains and ridges
The regions are one at the lunar craters Faustini, Shackleton, Malapert, Haworth and Amundsen, and two each at the craters Nobile and de Gerlache. There are also candidates at the de Gerlache-Kocher and Leibnitz Beta elevations, as well as two connecting ridges. All are within 6 degrees of latitude of the moon’s south pole, and each gives access to an area that is permanently in shadow.
Approach to the 13 possible landing sites
Several of the proposed areas were among the oldest on the lunar surface, NASA adds. Together with the shadow areas, they would therefore offer an opportunity to learn about the history of the moon. In addition, all of them also include areas in which the sun shines continuously during the six-and-a-half-day mission. This is essential for implementation.
Planned mission flow for Artemis-3
Artemis-3 was supposed to be the third mission in NASA’s Artemis program, which isn’t just about returning to the moon, but is planning to be a permanent presence. In the meantime, another unmanned test has been scheduled after the first flight, which is due in a few days. After that, the first crew on Artemis-2 will orbit the moon, and Artemis-3 will then be the first to land.
NASA is actually planning that for 2025. Even if everything works now, it shouldn’t be until 2026 at the earliest. At the end of August, Artemis-1 will first demonstrate that the launch vehicle and the space capsule are operational. The giant SLS rocket is already on the launch pad.
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