NASA’s new lunar mission will take science to multiple destinations in the solar system, a senior agency official said Wednesday (Nov. 16).
Hours after the launch of Artemis 1 marked the start of the Artemis program’s larger effort to return humans to the moon, a NASA official said the uncrewed mission, which will launch at 1:47 a.m. EST (0647 GMT) from started, is a cornerstone in building the future missions with humans on board.
“Artemis 1 is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions to explore the moon in preparation for missions to Mars,” Kate Calvin, NASA’s chief scientist and senior climate adviser, told Space.com in a video interview.
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Compared to the manned lunar missions of the Apollo program in the 1960s and 1970s, the Artemis program is designed to do more science and stay longer than even the three days that longer missions like Apollo 17 have at the end of the program performed, Calvin explained.
“The science, we’re using both humans and robots to learn more about the moon, in preparation for … other missions in the future,” she said, referring to both Artemis missions and manned efforts with other celestial destinations.
As Artemis 1 flies to lunar realms, Calvin said the mission will nevertheless benefit Earth sciences. Science payloads and mannequins aboard the Orion spacecraft will measure and assess radiation in cislunar space to learn “impact on crew and electronics,” while other experiments and cubesats will use photographs and biological measurements of living things such as algae, seeds, fungi and yeast will collect .
Practicing long-term life beyond Earth will also benefit sustainability on our planet, Calvin said.
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Artemis 1 will be followed by the manned Artemis 2 mission, which will orbit the moon no earlier than 2024, and the Artemis 3 landing mission, targeting 2025 or 2026, assuming the debut goes according to plan.
“Each mission within Artemis increases complexity,” Calvin said. “We’re very excited about that as we go back to the moon and on to Mars.”
Elizabeth Howell is the co-author of “Why am I taller (opens in new tab)(ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a space medicine book. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace (opens in new tab). follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Facebook (opens in new tab).