Artemis launch brings us closer to space exploration goals


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On Monday, August 29, NASA plans to launch its Orion spacecraft from the world’s most powerful rocket for a trip around the moon. This launch of the Artemis 1 uncrewed mission is a step towards the goal of landing on the moon in 2025.

“With a successful launch of Artemis 1, NASA and the United States will reclaim the ability to launch humans to the Moon,” said Bradley L. Jolliff, Scott Rudolph Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences in the Arts and Sciences. science at Washington University in St. Louis and director of the McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences.

“We lost that capability nearly 50 years ago when the last of the Saturn V rockets were retired after the Apollo 17 mission. Artemis 1 will pave the way for the next generation of astronauts to once again explore a world other than the our.”

Artemis represents the next big step forward in human space exploration, starting with a sustainable return to the moon, Jolliff said.

“In this case, ‘sustainable’ means the Artemis missions will not be Apollo-like sorties,” he said. “Instead of these short trips to explore a specific location and then return to Earth, the idea is to learn to live and work in deep space, beyond low Earth orbit where the International Space Station is located. found for many years.”

Learning to live and work on the Moon is a tall order as astronauts will have to deal with deep space radiation, including variable radiation from the sun, lunar dust, extreme temperatures and other issues, a he explained.

“Astronauts – and the multitude of engineers and scientists who support them – will explore and learn to use the moon’s resources, such as the production of oxygen and water from the lunar soil or from the ice buried in the moon. poles, particularly the south pole of the moon where buried ice is known to be present,” Jolliff said.

“Many countries, not just the United States, want to establish a long-term presence on the Moon,” he said. “This presence will be the starting point for further human exploration to other destinations, in particular Mars. It will be possible to use the hydrogen and oxygen mined and refined on the moon as fuels and vital resources for travel to these other destinations.”

The moon also remains a valuable location for further scientific exploration and this will be part of Artemis’ goals.

“As Earth’s companion in space, the Moon records much of Earth’s ancient history to help us better understand our past, including events that took place at the start of the solar system,” he said. Jolliff said.

He recently co-authored a perspective article in Physics Today on the scientific legacy of the Apollo program, noting that “Apollo surface samples have given us our first glimpse of weathering by exposure to galactic cosmic rays, energetic solar particles and meteorites, ranging from microscopic to asteroid.”

As a member of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera science team, Jolliff studies the surface of the moon, connecting what can be seen from orbit with what is known about the moon through the study of lunar meteorites and samples from Apollo.

Jolliff also leads the University of Washington team that is part of NASA’s Apollo Next Generation Sample Analysis program. He is a co-investigator on the university’s Interdisciplinary Consortium for the Evaluation of Volatile Origins (ICE Five-O) team, a NASA Solar System Exploration Virtual Research Institute.

“Some 50 years after Apollo, it is time that we continue our exploration of the moon and that the United States lead in what will undoubtedly be an international effort,” Jolliff said.

Where exactly will astronauts land on the moon? NASA will tell us

Provided by Washington University in St. Louis

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