A new image of the moon’s far side has revealed the region chosen by NASA for the landing of the Artemis III mission. This mission is part of NASA’s ambitious plan to return humans to the lunar surface for the first time in over 50 years. The selected landing site is the moon’s south pole, which is of great scientific interest because it is believed to contain water ice in permanently shadowed craters.
NASA collaborated with National Geographic to release a mosaic image of the Shackleton Crater, located at the moon’s south pole. The image was captured using NASA’s ShadowCam instrument on the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter spacecraft, along with additional images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The Shackleton Crater is one of the permanently shadowed craters in the region, making it a potential hotspot for water ice.
The interior of the Shackleton Crater, shrouded in permanent darkness, is revealed in the mosaic image. The crater was captured by ShadowCam, a NASA instrument designed for exploring the shadowy parts of the lunar surface. The surrounding areas were imaged by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera. The image showcases portions of three of the 13 potential landing regions for Artemis III astronauts.
Water ice is a rare resource on the moon, as it typically evaporates when exposed to sunlight. However, the permanently shadowed craters in the moon’s south pole create an ideal environment for water ice persistence. NASA scientists believe that the water ice in these craters can be utilized for various purposes, including astronaut consumables, radiation shielding, and rocket propellant.
The Artemis III mission is scheduled for 2025, and prior to that, NASA plans to conduct the Artemis II crewed mission around the moon. NASA will also send a lunar rover called VIPER to search for ice deposits. These missions will pave the way for future crewed missions and resource utilization on the lunar surface.
Sources: NASA, National Geographic