NASA and China Want to Land on the Same Areas on the Moon


Apollo 17 astronauts collected rock samples from the rim of the moon's Serenitatis basin.

Things can get a little crowded at the moon’s south pole, as both NASA and China aim to land their future lunar missions at the same landing sites, hoping to grab some of that region’s limited resources.

NASA recently announced 13 Candidate Landing Regions near the south pole of the moon for the coming Artemis 3 mission who wants to land a man and a woman on the moon by the end of 2025. Artemis 3 has its sights set on the moon’s south pole, an area of ​​particular value because it may contain water ice in its shady areas. Water on the moon could be an important resource for future space exploration, as it could be used to make rocket fuel, increasing the moon’s potential to become a gateway to more distant destinations like Mars. .

Of course, NASA isn’t alone in taking advantage of the Antarctic’s resources. In a paper published by the Journal of Deep Space Exploration in China, a group of researchers led by Chang’e-4 lunar mission commander Zhang He identified 10 potential landing sites near the South Pole. Unfortunately, there’s a bit of overlap as both NASA and the Chinese researchers are targeting locations near Shackleton, Haworth and Nobile craters as potential landing zones, Space News first reported. However, China’s upcoming mission to the moon will not involve astronauts. Instead, Chang’e 7 will include a rover to explore the water ice that may be trapped in the moon’s south pole. The mission is scheduled for a 2024 launch date.

Finding the right place to land on the moon’s south pole is tricky, as it has areas covered in darkness and others bathed in light. This light-to-dark ratio varies over distances of only a few miles, and spacecraft ideally want to land in lit areas for thermal control, but also want to be close enough to the shaded areas where the water can be held. So the options are limited for both NASA and the Chinese space agency.

What makes this lunar parking lot situation even more difficult is the fact that the US and China are on opposite sides of the race to the moon with competing space programs. Both countries aim to build lunar bases on the moon’s south pole sometime in the 2030s, with no signs of possible cooperation between them. NASA administrator Bill Nelson criticized China’s approach to space, saying the country was secretive and not open to cooperation in a… interview with NBC which aired on August 28. A day later, Chinese media criticized NASA’s Moon Program After the The launch of the Artemis 1 mission was delayed.

Both countries are working to narrow the list of potential landing sites as the lunar missions launch date approaches, but it’s not clear what will happen if they land in the same area at the South Pole.

More: NASA’s Artemis Moon Landing Program: Launches, Timeline, and More

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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