What is NASA's Artemis Program?

by Wall Street Rebel - Michael London | 08/30/2022 9:12 AM
What is NASA's Artemis Program?

Future astronaut landings near the lunar south pole, where ice may be discovered in permanently shadowed craters, could offer water, air, and a component in rocket fuel for deep-space explorers.


After almost half a century, NASA is sending a mission to the Moon for the first time thanks to the Artemis program. As part of its Artemis missions, NASA plans to create history by sending a woman and a person of color to the Moon. These astronauts will be part of the Artemis crew. During these missions, cutting-edge equipment will also be utilized to examine an unprecedented quantity of the lunar surface. The United States and our foreign and commercial partners will build the first presence on the Moon that will remain there for a lengthy period. This presence will be there, thanks to the United States. After that, we will use everything we have learned on the Moon and the region immediately surrounding it to take the following significant step: sending the first astronauts to Mars.

Since the final Apollo mission in 1972, humans have not walked on the surface of the Moon. On the other hand, things are likely to change in the years to come because the Artemis program is planning to send a number of probes to the Moon sometime during this decade.

A malfunction with a line carrying liquid hydrogen caused the cancellation of the first planned launch of the Artemis moon rover on Monday. The trip was intended to be a test flight during which no crew members would be on board. It was unclear when the next launch attempt may take place. NASA intends to deploy astronauts to the vicinity of the Moon's south pole for a stay of one week at some point in the future, but not before 2025. According to NASA, the crew will include both the first woman and the first person of color to set foot on the surface of the Moon.

Mannequins by the names of Helga, Zohar, and Commander Moonikin Campos will go into space as part of the first Artemis expedition rather than actual crew members. Both Helga and Zohar have plastic models of radiation-sensitive organs like the uterus and the lungs on board so that researchers can investigate the potential effects of radiation on future astronauts using these models.

The three mannequins will be transported on a spacecraft known as Orion, which was developed specifically to ensure the safety of human crew members as well as research conducted in orbit.

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During the time of the Trump administration, the directors of NASA decided to give the program the name Artemis. According to Greek mythology, Artemis was Apollo's identical twin sister. The first phase in the program will be the next test flight of the moon rocket, also known as the Space Launch System, which will feature the Orion capsule on top. This is the spacecraft that astronauts will use during subsequent missions. This unmanned test flight of the Orion spacecraft will make a loop around the Moon and then head back to Earth to iron out any problems with the vehicle before astronauts are allowed to board it.

The new rocket known as the Orbit Launch System will be used to send Orion into space. This launch vehicle has a height of 322 feet and weighs roughly six million pounds. The Space Launch System, which will be utilized in the Artemis I mission, is one of the most powerful rockets that NASA has ever produced. It can deliver cargo to the Moon that weighs approximately 60,000 pounds.

At the time of launch, the rocket will have a total mass of 5.75 million pounds and will contain 700,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. According to NASA, the Space Launch System (SLS) is the only rocket that "can transport Orion, people, and cargo directly to the moon on a single voyage." This is due of the SLS's "extraordinary power and capability." The rocket is going to be able to evolve for new missions, such as sending robots on scientific expeditions to destinations like Jupiter and Saturn. This capability is built into the design of the rocket. The development of SLS required an investment of $11 billion, and it is predicted that each launch will cost $4.1 billion.

Earlier in the spring, the rocket was tested and discovered a few problems. For example, during a fuelling test, the crew working on the SLS discovered a hydrogen leak and a defective valve and stimulated countdown. The required fixes have been completed, and NASA officials have stated that a "flight readiness evaluation" demonstrates that the rocket is now prepared to take off. Jim Free, associate administrator for the exploration systems development mission directorate at NASA, said, "We did talk to the launch team."

The second mission, which is called Artemis II, will take four astronauts on a trip around the Moon and back to Earth. This may be the farthest journey into the solar system that astronauts have ever traveled; however, this will depend on the position of the Moon throughout the voyage. The team will travel around 4,600 kilometers above the Moon's far side throughout their mission.

During the Artemis III mission, men will land a SpaceX Starship on the Moon near its south pole while Orion orbits the Moon in the background. Craters hidden from the sun's light for billions of years can be found in the polar area. These craters are shrouded in mystery. The scientists hope that the compounds that are currently frozen inside will help them better comprehend the history of the Moon and the solar system.

If the Artemis III mission is successful, NASA intends to frequent missions to the Moon with human crews. The Gateway outpost spacecraft will be positioned in lunar orbit, and the company's plans allow for establishing a base camp on the Moon.

These days, the goal of traveling to the Moon is shared by more than just NASA. China is credited with successfully landing three separate robotic missions on the Moon in recent years. India and an Israeli charity organization attempted to launch landers in 2019, but both were unsuccessful. An orbiter from South Korea is currently en route.

According to Mr. Nelson, the growing space goals of China, which include the establishment of a lunar outpost in the 2030s, offered additional fuel for Artemis. "It is necessary for us to be cautious about the possibility that they would claim, 'This is our exclusive zone.' You don't come in,' he told her. "So, sure, that is one of the factors we consider," she said.

The recent resurgence of interest in the Moon should provide scientists with a wealth of new information in the years to come.

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Planetary scientists had their conceptions of the solar system completely rewritten due to the rocks that astronauts recovered during the Apollo missions. The analysis of radioactive isotopes determined the precise ages of distinct places on the surface of the Moon. The rocks also revealed a shocking genesis tale for the Moon: it appears to have formed out of debris that was flung into space when an asteroid the size of Mars collided with Earth 4.5 billion years ago.

Many people had the impression that the Moon was a lonely, dry, and airless environment. But NASA moved its attention away from the Moon for the next two decades after Apollo 17, which was the last moon landing. It switched its attention to other locations in the solar system, such as Mars and the numerous moons that Jupiter and Saturn have.

However, the scientific community's fascination with the Moon never went away entirely. As a matter of fact, because of its barren nature, rocks that first began to solidify billions of years ago are still in virtually completely unaltered condition.

In addition, researchers found that the Moon's surface does not contain as much water as they had previously believed.

An important resource is water that is permanently frozen in the poles and can be found at the bottom of craters. Future astronauts can visit the Moon and find drinkable water there, and water has the potential to be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen.

The oxygen may be used to produce air suitable for breathing, and oxygen and hydrogen might be utilized as rocket propellant. Therefore, either the Moon itself or a refueling station in orbit around the Moon may act as a pit stop for spacecraft on their way out into the solar system to refill their tanks.

Suppose the ices were old accumulations that had occurred over a number of billions of years. In that case, they might even be able to produce a scientific history book of the solar system.

The expanding understanding of the Moon's ices sparked fresh interest in the celestial body. Anthony Colaprete, a planetary scientist working at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, stated that his thoughts regarding the Moon were "very fleeting" when he was interviewed in the early 2000s.

After that, NASA issued a request for proposals for a spacecraft that would be able to accompany the impending Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission to the Moon as a secondary payload. Dr. Colaprete, who was primarily engaged with climate models of Mars at the time, proposed the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, which he thought could confirm hints of water ice that had been detected by a couple of lunar spacecraft in the 1990s. At the time, Dr. Colaprete was primarily involved with climate models of Mars.

LCROSS would guide the upper stage of the rocket that launched the mission into one of the polar craters at a speed of 5,600 miles per hour, and then a small trailing spacecraft would measure the material that was thrown up by the impact.

However, NASA decided to go with this particular concept. The rocket that was carrying the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the LCROSS instrument was launched in June of 2009. In October of that year, the LCROSS spacecraft performed its fatal plunge into the Cabeus crater, which is located close to the Moon's south pole.

After waiting a month, Dr. Colaprete was finally able to find the answer to his question: there was, in fact, water at the bottom of Cabeus, and rather a lot of it.

In addition, instruments on an Indian orbiter called Chandrayaan-1 discovered obvious traces of water, and scientists employing cutting-edge methodologies discovered water trapped up in the minerals of old Apollo 15 and Apollo 17 rocks.

However, Barbara Cohen, a planetary scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, stated that there were still many questions that scientists had not resolved.

There are chilly places that do have ice, as well as cold regions that give the appearance of having no ice at all. There are locations where the surface is frosty, and there are other locations where there is ice below the surface; however, these two locations do not always coincide. She stated, "we do not entirely understand when that water got there or how it got there."

NASA officials have stated that the Artemis 2 mission, which would feature astronauts landing on the moon, is scheduled to launch in 2024. This will be followed by the Artemis 3 mission, involving astronauts orbiting the moon. This might take place as early as the year 2025.

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                      Artemis I Launch Tests NASA's Mission to Return Humans to the Moon | WSJ




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