An illustration showing the potential landing sites for Artemis III lunar landing. Image Credit: NASA.

Artemis III is Landing Humans on The Moon, NASA Identifies 13 Potential Sites

A total of 13 candidate landing regions near the lunar South Pole have been identified by the agency. Multiple landing sites are available in each region for Artemis III, the mission that will finally return humans to the surface of the Moon.

NASA has identified 13 potential landing zones near the lunar South Pole as it prepares to send astronauts back to the Moon under Artemis. Various landing sites are available in each region for Artemis III, the first Artemis mission to land a crew on the Moon, including the first woman.

Mark Kirasich, the deputy associate administrator at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said, “By selecting these regions, we are closer than ever to returning humans to the Moon.”

“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.”

Artemis III is expected to land in the following regions on the Moon:

  1. Faustini Rim A
  2. Peak Near Shackleton
  3. Connecting Ridge
  4. Connecting Ridge Extension
  5. de Gerlache Rim 1
  6. de Gerlache Rim 2
  7. de Gerlache-Kocher Massif
  8. Haworth
  9. Malapert Massif
  10. Leibnitz Beta Plateau
  11. Nobile Rim 1
  12. Nobile Rim 2
  13. Amundsen Rim

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Each of these regions lies within six degrees of latitude from the lunar south pole and, collectively, contains a variety of geologic features. As a result, all possible Artemis III launch opportunities have landing options available to them. However, in order to be flexible throughout the year, specific landing sites must coincide with the timing of the launch window.

An agency-wide team of scientists and engineers studied decades of lunar science publications and data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to select the regions.

In addition to evaluating launch windows, the team looked at terrain slope, ease of communication with Earth, and lighting conditions to determine which regions were most likely to accommodate a safe landing. A combination of the Space Launch System rocket, the Orion spacecraft, as well as the advanced human landing system provided by SpaceX, was also considered to determine accessibility.

In all cases, the regions considered are scientifically significant because they are close to the South Pole of the Moon, a region that has permanently shadowed regions rich in resources and terrain that humans have never explored.

“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.

In addition to landing close enough to a permanently shadowed region to allow the crew to perform a moonwalk, the analysis team considered other landing criteria with Artemis III science objectives. As a result, crew members will be able to collect samples and conduct scientific analysis in an uncompromised area, yielding important information about how deep, where, and what type of water ice is present at the Moon’s South Pole.

In addition to ensuring proximity to permanently shadowed regions, the team considered other lighting conditions when identifying regions that can accomplish the moonwalk objective.

The 13 regions all have sites that receive continuous sunlight for the duration of Artemis III’s surface mission, which is expected to last 6.5 days.

Sunlight is crucial for an extended stay on the Moon because it supplies power and minimizes temperature changes.

“Developing a blueprint for exploring the solar system means learning how to use resources that are available to us while also preserving their scientific integrity,” said Jacob Bleacher, chief exploration scientist for NASA. “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.”

NASA will hold conferences and workshops to solicit input on the merits of each of the 13 regions. NASA may identify additional regions for consideration based on this feedback in the future. The agency will also conduct a future assessment of Starship’s landing capabilities in conjunction with SpaceX.

After NASA identifies the mission’s target launch dates, which determine the mission’s transfer trajectory and surface environment, it will select sites within regions for Artemis III.

A stepping stone to future astronaut missions to Mars, NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon with Artemis.


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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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