Friday, August 19, 2022

NASA Artemis III Moon Mission: Candidate Regions for Landing Humans

NASA Artemis III Moon Mission: Candidate Regions for Landing Humans

Shown here is a rendering of 13 candidate landing regions for Artemis III. Each region is approximately 9.3 by 9.3 miles (15 by 15 kilometers). A landing site is a location within those regions with an approximate 328-foot (100-meter) radius.

As NASA prepares to send astronauts back to the Moon under Artemis, the agency has identified 13 candidate landing regions near the lunar South Pole. Each region contains multiple potential landing sites for Artemis III, which will be the first of the Artemis missions to bring crew to the lunar surface, including the first woman to set foot on the Moon.

NASA identified the following candidate regions for an Artemis III lunar landing:

Faustini Rim A

Peak Near Shackleton

Connecting Ridge

Connecting Ridge Extension

de Gerlache Rim 1

de Gerlache Rim 2

de Gerlache-Kocher Massif


Malapert Massif

Leibnitz Beta Plateau

Nobile Rim 1

Nobile Rim 2

Amundsen Rim

Each of these regions is located within six degrees of latitude of the lunar South Pole and, collectively, contain diverse geologic features. Together, the regions provide landing options for all potential Artemis III launch opportunities. Specific landing sites are tightly coupled to the timing of the launch window, so multiple regions ensure flexibility to launch throughout the year.

To select the regions, an agencywide team of scientists and engineers assessed the area near the lunar South Pole using data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and decades of publications and lunar science findings. In addition to considering launch window availability, the team evaluated regions based on their ability to accommodate a safe landing, using criteria including terrain slope, ease of communications with Earth, and lighting conditions. To determine accessibility, the team also considered combined capabilities of the Space Launch System rocket, the Orion spacecraft, and the SpaceX-provided Starship human landing system.

All regions considered are scientifically significant because of their proximity to the lunar South Pole, which is an area that contains permanently shadowed regions rich in resources and in terrain unexplored by humans.

The analysis team weighed other landing criteria with specific Artemis III science objectives, including the goal to land close enough to a permanently shadowed region to allow crew to conduct a moonwalk, while limiting disturbance when landing. This will allow crew to collect samples and conduct scientific analysis in an uncompromised area, yielding important information about the depth, distribution, and composition of water ice that was confirmed at the Moon’s South Pole.

The team identified regions that can fulfill the moonwalk objective by ensuring proximity to permanently shadowed regions, and also factored in other lighting conditions. All 13 regions contain sites that provide continuous access to sunlight throughout a 6.5-day period – the planned duration of the Artemis III surface mission. Access to sunlight is critical for a long-term stay at the Moon because it provides a power source and minimizes temperature variations.

NASA will discuss the 13 regions with broader science and engineering communities through conferences and workshops to solicit input about the merits of each region. This feedback will inform site selections in the future, and NASA may identify additional regions for consideration. The agency will also continue to work with SpaceX to confirm Starship’s landing capabilities and assess the options accordingly.

NASA will select sites within regions for Artemis III after it identifies the mission’s target launch dates, which dictate transfer trajectories and surface environment conditions.

Through Artemis, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon, paving the way for a long-term, sustainable lunar presence and serving as a steppingstone for future astronaut missions to Mars.

For more information on Artemis, visit:

Credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Release Date: August 19, 2022

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