The United States is about to launch the first mission of its return to the moon program, Artemis. But what is at stake in this return to our satellite, almost 50 years after the last human visit in December 1972?
, the Moon is a must before a trip to Mars. Here are his main arguments for this new mission since then in 1972.
NASA wants to develop, with missions lasting several weeks, compared to a few days for Apollo. The goal: to better understand how to prepare for a multi-year journey to Mars.
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Protect yourself from radiation
In deep space, space radiation is much more intense and poses a real threat to health. Low orbit, where it evolvesit is partially shielded from the Earth’s magnetic field, which does not happen on the Moon.
Since the first Artemis mission, many experiments are planned to study the impact of this radiation on living organisms or to evaluate the effectiveness of an anti-radiation jacket.
>> Review the topic at 7:30 pm in August 2019 on the effects of ionizing rays
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Leverage on-site resources
Also, while the ISS can often be refueled, travel to the Moon (located 1000 times further away) is much more complex. To avoid having to transport everything, and therefore reduce costs, NASA wants to learn how to use the resources present on the surface. In particular, water in the form of ice, the existence of which has been confirmed at the South Pole of the Moon, and which could be transformed into fuel (water is composed of oxygen and hydrogen, used by rockets).
Test new technologies
NASA also wants to test technologies on the Moon that will allow it to evolve on Mars.
First, new space suits for spacewalks. Their design has been entrusted to the Axiom Space company for the first mission that will land on the Moon, at the latest in 2025.
Other needs: vehicles (pressurized or not) for the movement of astronauts, as well as accommodation.
Finally, for sustainable access to an energy source, NASA is working on the development of portable nuclear fission systems.
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Solving any problems that arise will be much easier on the Moon, a few days away, than on Mars, which can only be reached in at least several months.
Lunar orbiting station
Another part of the Artemis program is the construction of a space station in orbit around the Moon, called the Gateway, which will act as a relay before the journey to Mars.
All the necessary equipment can be sent there in “several jumps”, before finally being joined by the crew for the departure, explains to AFP Sean Fuller, head of the. A bit like “going to the gas station to check that we have everything”.
Apart from Mars, another reason given by the Americans to settle on the Moon is to do it … before the Chinese.
While the space race between the United States and Russia raged in the 1960s, today the big competitor is Beijing. China plans to send humans to the moon by 2030.
“We don’t want China to go there and say ‘this is our territory,'” NASA chief Bill Nelson said on television in late August.
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Finally, even if the Apollo missions have brought back almost 400 kilograms of lunar rock to Earth, new samples will allow us to further deepen our knowledge of this star and its formation.
“The samples collected during the Apollo changed our view of the solar system,” astronaut Jessica Meir told AFP. “And this will continue with Artemis.”
Thanks to the investments and scientific enthusiasm generated by these new missions, it foresees concrete benefits also on Earth (technologies, engineering, etc.), as in the time of the Apollo.
>> To reproduce the lunar conditions, ESA is testing its equipment on Etna
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