NASA picks lunar sites where two astronauts could land in 2026

The SLS rocket sits atop the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center prior to the launch of Artemis 1.

The SLS rocket sits atop the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center prior to the launch of Artemis 1.
photo: NASA

NASA will return to the moon, but first The space agency needs to decide where it’s going garden.Friday it disclose 13 candidate landing zones near the lunar south pole coming soon Artemis 3 questswhose purpose is to land a man and a woman on the lunar surface.

Each area is approximately 10 x 10 miles (15 x 15 kilometers), each area contains multiple landing sites, and has a radius of approximately 328 feet (100 Meter). “A region might be thought of as a series of parking lots, while a site is a single parking space for a lander,” said NASA chief exploration scientist Jacob Bleacher, said at a news conference on Friday.

Rendering of 13 candidate landing regions for Artemis 3 near the lunar south pole.

Rendering of 13 candidate landing regions for Artemis 3 near the lunar south pole.
illustration: NASA

NASA used it to collect data on these areas Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)which launched in 2009 and is still orbiting the moon. LRO has been mapping the polar regions of the moon, and the orbiter is critical to helping NASA figure out where it can go login during future moon Task. Artemis 3 sets its sights on the moon’s south pole, an area that has been in the spotlight since its inception May contain water ice in its shaded area.Water on the moon is considered a huge advantage for future space exploration, providing astronauts with a valuable local resource Supported Resources persistent on the lunar surface.

This Antarctica There are areas permanently hidden in darkness and other frequently bathed areas Sunlight. TonHis light—to-The dark ratio changes by more than a small distance a few miles. “Looking for a bigger location-Compare-The average amount of light allows us to design systems that use light for energy and thermal control,” Bleacher said. “Similarly, the location of permanent shadows unique to the poles provides an opportunity for water and other volatiles trapped there. ” So while Antarctica does have certain advantages, NASA also has There are many technical issues to consider when deciding where to land.

“The Apollo landing site was in the center section of the near side, and now we’re going to a completely different place, in a different and ancient geological terrain,” Sarah Noble, head of lunar science at Artemis, said in the briefing. NASA assembled an agency-wide team of scientists and engineers who looked at decades of data to ensure safe landings, ease of communication, and proper lighting conditions.The team also considered NASA’s capabilities Space Launch System, Orion spacecraft, and SpaceX’s Starship Crew Landing System.After two years of deliberation, the team came up with 13 landing areas close to Antarctica.

space agency is working on zoom out this list As the launch date for the Artemis 3 mission draws ever closer.Currently, the task will not happenRe 2026. Some landing sites are only accessible during certain launch windows, so have a choice Giving the space agency more flexibility Launch Artemis 3 missions throughout the year.

NASA’s SLS rocket is currently Sitting high on the launch pad Waiting for the drone launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida Artemis 1 quest. The mission is currently scheduled for AAlternate windows are available on August 29, September 2 and September 5. Artemis 2, currently scheduled to launch in late 2024, will have a crew aboard the Orion capsule to travel to the moon, but will not land on the ground.That’s the job of Artemis 3, which could launch as early as 2026, where NASA plans to land a man and a woman South Pole of the Moon.

Unlike Apollo, Artemis plans to not only Let humans stay for a while. Its goal is to establish and maintain Found on and around Earth’s natural satellites.this will be a stepping stone A more ambitious project: the first human journey to Mars.

more: What to Know About the Lunar Gateway, NASA’s Future Lunar Orbiting Space Station

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