NASA has identified the “dark areas” of the moon where astronauts will walk & More Latest News Here

Artemis I is due to embark on an unmanned mission to orbit the moon next week. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

NASA has identified 13 possible landing sites near the moon’s south pole for its Artemis III mission.

This mission involves bringing humans to the surface of the satellite, with the space agency planning to put the first woman on the moon.

Mark Kirasich, Deputy Associate Administrator of the Artemis Campaign Development Division at Nasa Headquarters in Washington, said: “The selection of these regions means that we are one step closer to returning humans to the moon for the first time since Apollo.

“When we do, it will be unlike any previous mission as astronauts venture into dark realms previously unexplored by humans and lay the groundwork for future long-term sojourns.”

A crewed flight in lunar orbit is planned by 2024, with a landing by 2025 or 2026.

NASA has estimated the cost of the entire Artemis mission at $28 billion.

Read more: Astronomers discover the closest black hole to Earth

It would be the first time people have walked on the moon since the last Apollo lunar mission in 1972. Only 12 people have walked on the moon – all of them men.

NASA flew six manned missions to the surface of the moon, starting with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in July 1969, through Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt in December 1972.

The mission will use NASA’s powerful new rocket, Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft.

Each of the target regions is located within six degrees of latitude of the lunar south pole and collectively contains various geological features.

Specific landing sites are tightly tied to the timing of the launch window, so multiple regions ensure launch flexibility throughout the year.

Read more: There may have once been life on the moon

All of the regions considered are scientifically important due to their proximity to the lunar south pole, which is an area that contains permanently shaded regions rich in resources and unexplored terrain by man.

Sarah Noble, Artemis Lunar Science Manager for NASA’s Planetary Science Division, said: “Several of the sites proposed in the regions are located among some of the oldest parts of the moon and, together with the shaded regions in permanence, offer the opportunity to learn more about the history of the moon through previously unstudied lunar material.

The space agency has identified 13 possible landing zones (NASA)

The space agency has identified 13 possible landing zones (Nasa)

The analysis team weighed other landing criteria with Artemis III-specific science goals, including the goal of landing close enough to a permanently shaded region to allow the crew to perform a moonwalk, while limiting disturbances during landing.

This will allow the crew to collect samples and conduct scientific analysis in an uncompromising area, providing important information about the depth, distribution and composition of water ice that has been confirmed at the south pole of the moon.

Jacob Bleacher, NASA’s chief exploration scientist, said: “Developing a plan to explore the solar system means learning to use the resources that are available to us while maintaining their scientific integrity.

“Lunar water ice is valuable scientifically and also as a resource because we can extract oxygen and hydrogen from it for life support systems and fuel.”

Watch: Nasa Artemis – what will it take to explore the moon and Mars?

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