NASA has selected and published the names of the new team of geologists who will be responsible for developing the scientific project for the first Artemis moon landing mission. The launch of the mission was initially scheduled for December 2025 but has currently been postponed to a date to be established.
News that rocks!@NASA has selected the geology team that will develop the surface science plan for #Artemis III, the first crewed lunar landing mission in more than 50 years.— NASA_SLS (@NASA_SLS) August 31, 2023
Learn more about this important step for future @NASAArtemis missions >> https://t.co/FBU24Xv39f pic.twitter.com/qvMuMExoQX
Artemis III will be the second crewed mission of the associated program and the first crewed lunar landing mission after more than 50 years, since Apollo 17 in 1972.
The team and their mission
The selected principal investigator will be Dr. Brett Denevi of the Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel. The aim of the scientific project is to characterize the geology surface site of the Moon in which the astronauts will land. The team has a budget of $5.1 million to develop the geology project for the mission.
The precise objectives are defined in accordance with the Artemis Science Priorities.
The work of the team of geologists for the Artemis III mission is to plan the scientific activities that the astronauts will have to complete once they land on the Moon:
- field geology traverses and observations;
- a collection of lunar samples;
- imagery, real-time documentation, scientific measurements, and assessment of data;
- collection of information about the depth and composition of ice at the Moon’s South Pole. The data of oxygen and hydrogen extracted will be useful both from a scientific point of view and from a perspective of resources used for life support systems and fuel.
“The Artemis III Geology Team will have the unique opportunity to analyze the first-ever samples from the lunar south pole region, helping us not only to unlock new information about the formation of our Solar System but also with planning for future Artemis missions and establishing a long-term lunar presence”— Jim Free, Associate Administrator at NASA
Indeed the astronauts will have the task of collecting samples of lunar material that is estimated to be 3.85 billion years old. These data will be of fundamental importance to allow us to understand the planetary processes that operate across the solar system and beyond.
Latest News about Artemis III mission
Artemis III will be the first moon landing mission, but also the first mission that will see the operational use of the Starship system to descend to the surface. The release date has been postponed to 2026 due to the difficult developments of the Starship, selected only two years ago. For this reason, NASA has decided to follow a flexible approach for the Artemis missions.
Starship, before being able to land on the Moon with astronauts, will have to overcome some key steps:
- becoming operational in its cargo version;
- demonstrate propellant refueling capability in orbit;
- It has to carry out several missions toward low Earth orbit;
- It has to perform an uncrewed moon landing mission.
Artemis III involves the landing of the crew on the Moon’s south polar region. It is planned to place two astronauts on the surface for about a week. In the meantime, the remaining astronauts will remain aboard the Gateway/Orion orbital complex.