NASA is aiming to send the next man and the first woman to the icy South Pole of the moon by 2024, as directed by President Donald Trump.
The space agency says it’s trying to make the moon return happen as soon as possible and by all means necessary.
The South Pole is Nasa’s current target for exploration because scientists have observed evidence of lots of ice in the craters there.
The presence of ice means that moon water could potentially be used as a resource for future missions.
Moon water could help astronauts explore the moon for longer or even stay there.
The space agency is working on a reusable human lunar landing system that will take astronauts to the moon and back.
This reusable system will rely on a small spaceship that Nasa is building called Gateway.
Gateway will orbit the moon and act as a temporary home, office and laboratory for astronauts.
Nasa is planning to set up more moon missions from this moon orbiting space craft by 2028.
Associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at Nasa William Gerstenmaier said: “The Gateway can be positioned in a variety of orbits around the Moon, allows for access to entire lunar surface, and supports development of a reusable human lander system.
“Resiliency and reusability are key for sustainable human lunar exploration, and that’s what the Gateway gives us. Furthermore, there’s broad interest from the international community for supporting as well.”
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said: “We’ve been given an ambitious and exciting goal. History has proven when we’re given a task by the president, along with the resources and the tools, we can deliver.
“We are committed to making this happen. We have the people to achieve it. Now, we just need bipartisan support and the resources to get this done.”
The Moon – our closest neighbour explained
Here’s what you need to know…
- The Moon is a natural satellite – a space-faring body that orbits a planet
- It’s Earth’s only natural satellite, and is the fifth biggest in the Solar System
- The Moon measures 2,158 miles across, roughly 0.27 times the diameter of Earth
- Temperatures on the Moon range from minus 173 degrees Celcius to 260 degrees Celcius
- Experts assumed the Moon was another planet, until Nicolaus Copernicus outlined his theory about our Solar System in 1543
- It was eventually assigned to a “class” after Galileo discovered four moons orbiting Jupiter in 1610
- The Moon is believed to have formed around 4.51billion years ago
- The strength of its gravitational field is about a sixth of Earth’s gravity
- Earth and the Moon have “synchronous rotation”, which means we always see the same side of the Moon – hence the phrase “dark side of the Moon”
- The Moon’s surface is actually dark, but appears bright in the sky due to its reflective ground
- During a solar eclipse, the Moon covers the Sun almost completely. Both objects appear a similar size in the sky because the Sun is both 400 times larger and farther
- The first spacecraft to reach the Moon was in 1959, as part of the Soviet Union’s Lunar program
- The first manned orbital mission was Nasa’s Apollo 8 in 1968
- And the first manned lunar landing was in 1969, as part of the Apollo 11 mission
In order to put Gateway into space in the first place, the agency is also creating a powerful Space Launch System.
Nasa will soon be sending science and technology investigations to the lunar surface through its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS), which means by the time the astronauts get to the moon they will have technology and tools up there waiting for them.
Bridenstine explained: “Using new landers, robots and eventually humans, we will conduct science and technology demonstrations across the entire lunar surface of the Moon to learn more about resources on the Moon and how we can use them for future exploration.
“We will move forward to the Moon, this time to stay. And then we’ll take what we learn on the Moon, and go to Mars.”
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Are you excited fro astronauts to return to the moon? Let us know in the comments…
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