(MENAFN- Trend News Agency)
NASA announced Friday that it has selected 13 possible regions
at the South Pole of the Moon as potential future landing sites for
its Artemis III mission, a project aiming to send astronauts back
to the Moon in 2025, Trend reports citing Xinhua .
'Selecting these regions means we are one giant leap closer to
returning humans to the Moon for the first time since Apollo,' said
Mark Kirasich, deputy associate administrator for the Artemis
Campaign Development Division at NASA Headquarters in
NASA said each of these regions is located within six degrees of
latitude of the lunar South Pole, an area water ice is believed to
exist in permanently shadowed craters and could provide continuous
access to sunlight throughout a 6.5-day period, the planned
duration of the Artemis III surface mission.
The Apollo missions more than 50 years ago went to the
equatorial regions of the Moon, where there are long stretches of
daylight, for as long as two weeks. The South Pole may only have
only a few days of light, making the missions more challenging and
limiting the windows when NASA can launch.
'Several of the proposed sites within the regions are located
among some of the oldest parts of the Moon, and together with the
permanently shadowed regions, provide the opportunity to learn
about the history of the Moon through previously unstudied lunar
materials,' said Sarah Noble, Artemis lunar science lead for NASA's
Planetary Science Division.
Access to ice resource and sunlight is critical for a long-term
stay at the Moon because it provides a power source and minimizes
temperature variations. Unlike the Apollo missions which concluded
in 1972, Artemis is designed to create a permanent presence on and
around the Moon.
'Lunar water ice is valuable from a scientific perspective and
also as a resource, because from it we can extract oxygen and
hydrogen for life support systems and fuel,' said Jacob Bleacher,
chief exploration scientist for NASA.
NASA explained that the selected regions provide landing options
for all potential Artemis III launch opportunities, saying
'specific landing sites are tightly coupled to the timing of the
launch window, so multiple regions ensure flexibility to launch
throughout the year.'
Moreover, it said each of the selected regions is of scientific
interest and was evaluated based on terrain, communications, and
lighting conditions, as well as ability to meet science
Friday's announcement came as NASA was preparing the first of
its Artemis missions, which is currently set after Aug. 29.
That flight, known as Artemis I, would mark the first launch of
NASA's massive Space Launch System rocket that would send the Orion
crew capsule, without any astronauts on board, into orbit around
the Moon for a 42-day mission.
The rocket and Orion spacecraft for the Artemis I mission
arrived atop Launch Complex 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in
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