The two astronauts who walk on the Moon must bring Earth 85 kilos of samples of various materials extracted from the surface and subsoil, as recommended by a dense NASA report that lists the scientific operations that they will have to perform, something that will happen at the earliest in 2024.
The suggested amount exceeds the 64 kg brought in on average by the missions Apolo between 1969 and 1972.
“The Moon has enormous scientific potential that astronauts will help us harness,” he said. Thomas ZurbuchenNASA Associate Administrator for Science, on Monday presenting the report written by scientists from the agency and academia.
The Artemis 1 mission will test the new SLS heavy rocket with the Orion capsule without humans on board, initially in late 2021. Artemis 2 will carry astronauts around the Moon in 2023, but without landing on it.
Finally Artemis 3 will send two astronauts to lunar soil, including the first woman, in theory in 2024.
The NASA has set seven scientific goals for Artemis 3, such as understanding planetary processes and the origin of volatile matter at the Moon’s poles.
Astronauts will only have 6.5 days on the Moon at most, and every minute of their time will count.
The authors of the report want to improve their working conditions for the Apollo missions, especially to help them better select the most interesting samples.
Unlike the last Apollo mission in 1972, no geologist will be part of the crew.
Therefore, experts encourage NASA to provide a high-speed video communication link so that astronauts can be supported by a team of scientists on Earth.
They are also asking the agency to develop scientific devices that are lighter and capable of taking several measurements at the same time, in order to fit on the lander that is about to be built. There are three projects of private companies in competition and the NASA the contract has not yet been awarded.
And they wonder if it would not be a good idea to send scientific instruments, including a power generator, and a rover, which, at the moment, is only planned for later missions to the chosen location.
All this will serve for the construction of the “Artemis base camp”, scheduled for the end of the decade, on the condition that the next US president, Joe Biden, and Congress agree to fund the tens of billions of dollars needed.