It is now possible to know what the astronauts of the Artemis III mission will do once they arrive on the moon. The American Space Agency (Nasa) has made public the first three scientific instruments that the crew will carry to Earth’s satellite.

Artemis III plans to send a group of astronauts to the moon to conduct experiments. The launch is scheduled for 2026, which still leaves time to define the project’s official missions, Phys Org indicates. However, with this first batch of equipment, it is possible to learn more about the intentions that pushed the United States to set foot on the moon again.

It is the first time in more than fifty years that astronauts have returned to the moon. It has already been determined that Artemis III will focus on the satellite’s south pole, to learn more about this region and its history using never-before-studied lunar features. For NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy: “Artemis marks a new era of bold exploration, where human presence amplifies scientific discoveries.”

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Conquest of the Moon: the tastiest anecdotes about the Apollo missions

Moon discoveries as fuel for a manned journey to Mars

The LEAF project (for lunar effects on agricultural flora) will be devoted to the study of plants and their development on the moon. Christine Escobar’s team from the Space Lab (Boulder, Colorado) will attempt to evaluate the impact of the lunar environment on crops. So she will focus on observing photosynthesis, growth and systemic responses to plant stress.

This should be used to determine the impact of space radiation and partial gravity on plant species. But the challenge is also to understand how plants can be integrated into life-support scenarios on the moon. All this while keeping in mind that the discoveries on the lunar environment could help the colonization of Mars in the coming years.

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However, this isn’t the first time plants have been planted on the moon, New Scientist recalls. In 2019, China’s Chang’e 4 mission germinated seeds there. But without human supervision on site, they didn’t last long.

LEMS, a tool for building a future geophysical lunar network

Among the space cultivation experiments we can mention salads and other vegetables that have been grown for several years by members of the International Space Station (ISS). But as early as 1971, astronaut Stuart Rosa placed tree seeds in orbit around the moon. The 500 trees, which were planted on Earth five years later, had not been the subject of any research by NASA.

The Artemis III mission plans to carry a Lunar Environmental Monitoring Station (LEMS). This is a set of compact and autonomous seismometers. Once installed, the LEMS will study the moon’s seismic activity by recording ground movements continuously and over the long term.

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The tool must remain operational for three months to two years. Its importance is so great that it is already expected to become the central element of a future lunar geophysical network. The LEMS will be managed by Doctor Medhi Benna of the University of Maryland (in suburban Washington) and will attempt to characterize the structure of the crust and mantle of the moon’s south pole.

“A completely new way of doing science”

The latest tool NASA has unveiled to integrate Artemis III is a lunar dielectric analyzer (LDA). It will make it possible to measure the ability of regolith (moon dust) to propagate an electric field. The machine should detect the presence of volatile particles on the moon’s surface, mainly ice. This is currently the only instrument with an international contribution, as it will be led by the University of Tokyo and funded by the Japan Space Exploration Agency (Jaxa).

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“These three science instruments will be our first opportunity since Apollo to leverage the unique capabilities of human explorers to conduct transformative lunar science.”said Joel Kearns, deputy associate administrator for exploration at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy goes even further by estimating that the Artemis III mission defines it “a completely new way of doing science”. She explains: “Now that these innovative instruments are stationed on the moon’s surface, we embark on a transformative journey that will supercharge the ability to work as a human-machine team.”

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