At a press conference held on August 19, NASA representatives published a map of the southern polar region of the Moon. It marks 13 sites considered as the landing site of the Artemis III expedition.
The potential landing sites of Artemis III are located within six degrees of latitude from the south pole of the Moon. NASA’s increased interest in this region is explained by numerous evidences indicating that there are deposits of water ice at the bottom of its eternally shaded craters. They could be a valuable help for future lunar settlers.
Criteria for the selection of landing sites
The selection of sites was carried out on the basis of images taken by the LRO apparatus, as well as data collected by other missions. Experts took into account many different factors. One of them was the technical reachability of the region using the SLS rocket, the Orion spacecraft and the lunar Starship. Another is the opportunity to land near a shaded area, while limiting the impact on the surface. This will enable astronauts to make an exit and collect undisturbed samples.
Terrain, ease of communication with the Earth and lighting conditions were also taken into account. A prerequisite was that the site was illuminated for 6.5 days, which corresponds to the estimated time spent on the lunar surface of the Artemis III expedition.
All the selected sites are located at elevations: some — on the slopes of mountains, others — on the walls of impact craters. According to experts, some of the sites are located on one of the oldest sections of the lunar surface. Together with the presence of permanently shaded regions in the neighborhood, this provides an opportunity to look into the history of the moon of our planet.
It is worth noting that specific landing sites are closely related to potential launch windows. Therefore, the presence of a large number of sites provides greater flexibility in planning.
In the future, NASA specialists will continue a detailed study of the 13 selected regions to learn more about their potential advantages, which will allow choosing a landing site for Artemis III. This activity will be carried out in coordination with SpaceX representatives, who will have to confirm that it is suitable for Starship landing.
According to https://www.nasa.gov
Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time