NASA Identifies 13 Candidate Landing Regions Near Lunar South Pole For Its Artemis III Mission
NASA has identified 13 candidate landing regions near the lunar South Pole as the US space agency is preparing to send astronauts back to the Moon under its Artemis programme.
Each region contains multiple potential landing sites for Artemis III, which will be the first of the Artemis missions to bring crew to the lunar surface, including the first woman to set foot on the Moon, NASA said in a statement on Friday (19 August).
“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 Washington.
“When we do, it will be unlike any mission that’s come before as astronauts venture into dark areas previously unexplored by humans and lay the groundwork for future long-term stays," Mark added.
The 13 candidate regions identified by NASA for an Artemis III lunar landing are:
Faustini Rim A
Peak Near Shackleton
Connecting Ridge Extension
de Gerlache Rim 1
de Gerlache Rim 2
de Gerlache-Kocher Massif
Leibnitz Beta Plateau
Nobile Rim 1
Nobile Rim 2
According to NASA, each of these regions is located within six degrees of latitude of the lunar South Pole and, collectively, contain diverse geologic 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 regions ensure flexibility to launch throughout the year," the US space agency said.
The candidate regions for lunar landing were identified by a team of NASA scientists and engineers after assessing the area 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 launch window availability, the team evaluated regions based on their ability to accommodate a safe landing, using criteria including terrain slope, ease of communications with Earth, and lighting conditions, the US space agency said.
To determine accessibility, the team also considered combined capabilities of the Space Launch System rocket, the Orion spacecraft, and the SpaceX-provided Starship human landing system, it added.
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