NASA is going to put material on the far side of the moon for the first time. It concerns three scientific projects.
Two of the three projects will land on the ‘back’ of the month. That’s the side we never get to see from Earth. The scientific payloads are part of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services project. That, in turn, is part of the larger Artemis program that includes the new moon mission. The space agency wants to collect as much data as possible about the dark side of the moon, in order to safely send astronauts there in the future.
Backside is unknown territory
The far side of the moon is still quite pristine. It was not until 2019 that the region was explored by China’s Chang’e mission. Never before have NASA spacecraft landed or American lunar cars raced over the surface. So a lot of exploratory work still needs to be done. NASA already chose one of the projects because the creators want it to land in the Schrödinger impact crater. In that basin the tectonic activity of the celestial body can be examined more closely.
Another project is landing in the crater that could well complement the findings: the Lunar Interior Temperature and Materials Suite. That device is equipped with two instruments that will examine the internal heat waves and electrical conductivity.
Finally, the third project is called the Lunar Vertex and travels to Reiner Gamma. That experiment examines lunar vortices. These are mysterious patterns on the surface that are believed to be caused by the moon’s magnetic field. Lunar Vertex consists of a lander with a robot jeep. The latter will be able to take measurements in various places while driving.
Competition winners rewarded
The scientists in question made their submissions as part of the Payloads and Research Investigations on the Surface of the Moon (PRISM). NASA had set up that competition, with the aim being a ticket to the moon. The US space agency aims to land their projects sometime in 2024.