NASA Announces Potential Lunar Landing Sites for Artemis III

Currently, there are 13 options

Lunar landing sites
NASA's map of the potential sites on the Moon.

Later this year, a new era of space exploration is set to begin when Artemis I launches. As its name suggests, that will be the first of a number of NASA missions with the end goal of sending crewed vessels back to the surface of the Moon. If you’ve been depending on watching For All Mankind for your regular allowance of “Americans in space” — and you should, it’s a fantastic show — you’ll soon be able to get some science fact alongside your science fiction.

On Friday, NASA announced a number of potential sites where Artemis III might land. One thing that these sites all have in common? They can all be found on the southern half of the Moon. As The Washington Post explained, this is in sharp contrast to the areas on the Moon where the Apollo missions landed.

One of the things these regions have in common, the agency revealed, is their close proximity to locations where ice is believed to be located. There’s also NASA’s goal of learning more about the Moon’s history and origins, which also factored into these sites being chosen.

As Sarah Noble, the lunar science lead for Artemis, explained in a statement, these sites were chosen for a number of factors. “Several of the proposed sites within the regions are located among some of the oldest parts of the Moon, and together with the permanently shadowed regions, provide the opportunity to learn about the history of the Moon through previously unstudied lunar materials,” Noble said.

The list of 13 potential launch sites may be expanded in the near future. Eventually, the decision on which site to use will depend on when Artemis III is scheduled to launch — depending on the timing, certain regions may be preferable to others. It’s another big step forward for the Artemis program.

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