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Weekly Current Affairs: April week-2 - NASA's Artemis Project

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    15th Apr, 2020

NASA is forging ahead with its ‘Artemis program’ to land humans on the moon by 2024, but the agency has also just offered its first plan for what a U.S. lunar presence may look like after that milestone.

Context

NASA is forging ahead with its ‘Artemis program’ to land humans on the moon by 2024, but the agency has also just offered its first plan for what a U.S. lunar presence may look like after that milestone.

About

  • NASA is committed to landing American astronauts, including the first woman and the next man, on the Moon by 2024.
  • Through the agency’s Artemislunar exploration program, NASA will use innovative new technologies and systems to explore more of the Moon than ever before.
  • With the Artemis program NASA will:
    • Demonstrate new technologies, capabilities, and business approaches needed for future exploration including Mars
    • Establish American leadership and a strategic presence on the Moon while expanding our U.S. global economic impact
    • Broaden our commercial and international partnerships
    • Inspire a new generation and encourage careers in STEM

The new plan:

  • The new plan comes from the report, titled "NASA’s Plan for Sustained Lunar Exploration and Development".
  • It summarizes the vision NASAhas laid out for justifying and accomplishing the 2024 moon landing.
  • But the report also looks farther out to focus on what a long-term presence on the moon and in lunar orbit would permit the U.S. to accomplish.

Artemis Base Camp 

  • The star of the report is what NASA has dubbed Artemis Base Camp, meant to be a long-term foothold for lunar exploration, perhaps in Shackleton Craterat the moon's south pole.
  • Artemis Base Camp itself would be a lunar foundation surface habitat that could host four astronauts at the south pole for visits of perhaps a week.
  • In the long term, the facility would also require infrastructure for power, waste disposal and communications, as well as radiation shielding and a landing pad.
  • The base could also be a site for testing new techniques for dealing with pesky lunar dustand the long, cold lunar nights, turning local materials into resources like water, and developing new power and construction technologies.
  • The camp would be accompanied and supported by two mobility systems:
    • a lunar terrain vehicle to facilitate astronaut movement across the surface
    • a habitable mobility platform that could support trips away from base for up to 45 days.
  • Mobility is a major part of the Artemis Base Camp. Robust mobility systems will be needed to explore and develop the moon.
  • The same is true for Mars, making the habitable mobility platform a particularly important element as we will need a similar type of vehicle to explore the Red Planet.

Conclusion:

In the long term, the base camp will need infrastructure for power, waste disposal and communications, besides radiation shielding and a landing pad. The base camp will demonstrate the US’s continued leadership in space and will eventually help them prepare to undertake humanity’s first mission to Mars.

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