“The Moon holds vast scientific potential and astronauts are going to help us enable that science,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “This report helps outline a path forward toward the compelling science we can now contemplate doing on the lunar surface in conjunction with human explorers.”
The Artemis III Science Definition Team is composed of federal employees and consultants with expertise in lunar science. The team will work to define science objectives for all aspects of the Artemis III mission, including sampling strategies, field surveys and deployable experiments.
In addition, the Artemis III Science Definition Team prioritized investigations that will help NASA understand the risks and resources of the Moon’s South Pole, as well as outline the highest science priorities of the lunar science community.
The team also provided context by assessing what science goals could be executed during the Artemis III surface mission. NASA will develop a mission operations plan when human landing system capabilities, a landing site, and other architectural details come into sharper focus. The procedures and operations techniques developed for Artemis III also will inform future Artemis missions.
“The team’s hard work will ensure we’re able to take advantage of the potential of the Artemis III mission to help us learn from the Moon as a gateway to the rest of the solar system,” said team co-chair Renee Weber, chief scientist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, who led the effort.
NASA’s Science and Human Exploration and Operations mission directorates will work together to integrate recommendations into the science strategy of the agency’s Artemis Plan as plans move ahead for the Artemis III crewed launch in 2024.
Artemis III has the potential to enable the science community to make significant progress on many of the identified priority science goals, including increasing our understanding of how the Moon formed and evolved, how it interacts with the Sun, and how water and other resources arrived at the Moon, are transported, and currently are preserved.
“Science will be integral to Artemis missions, and we look forward to planning missions of human and scientific discovery that draw on the thoughtful work of this team,” said Kathy Lueders, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.