Moon’s south pole possible landing site | 4/18/2019 | Eleanor Imster
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Image via NASA.

NASA is working to send astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2024. For a lunar landing site, NASA is planning on the moon’s south pole.

Reasons - Location - NASA - Moon - Pole

One of the main reasons for that location, said NASA, is that the moon’s south pole has ice, and water is a critical resource for long-term exploration – for drinking, cooling equipment, breathing and making rocket fuel for missions to Mars and beyond.

Steven Clarke is deputy associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Clarke said in a statement:

Region - Contains - Ice - Resources - Observations

We know the south pole region contains ice and may be rich in other resources based on our observations from orbit, but, otherwise, it’s a completely unexplored world. The south pole is far from the Apollo landing sites clustered around the equator, so it will offer us a new challenge and a new environment to explore as we build our capabilities to travel farther into space.

In this multi-temporal illumination map of the lunar south pole, Shackleton crater (19 km diameter) is in the center, the south pole is located approximately at 9 o’clock on its rim. The map was created from images from the camera aboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Image via NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.

Reason - Lunar - Pole - Target - Landing

Another reason the lunar south pole is a good target for a future human landing is that, although no human has ever been there, robotically, it’s the most thoroughly investigated region on the moon.

That’s because the elliptical, polar orbit of NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) – which has been orbiting the moon since June 2019 – is closest to the moon during its pass over the south pole region. Through its thousands of orbits, the robotic spacecraft has collected more precise information – topography, temperature and locations of likely frozen water – about the south pole...
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