The location is anticipated to contain ice buried under the surface, NASA wants humans to investigate near the lunar south pole as early as 2025. If the frozen water there could be unearthed and gathered, human explorers would have a valuable resource.
According to scientists, something as simple as H2O has the potential to be transformed into oxygen, drinking water, and fuel.The moon's north and south poles are always dark, with submerged areas in these regions never receiving direct sunlight.
However, analysing these continuously darkened craters from orbit provides an apparent challenge: how can you map out the terrain's intricacies in the dark?
NASA is now receiving bright, detailed photos of prospective landing locations thanks to a collaboration with South Korea. Danuri, a Korean spacecraft launched this summer, has been orbiting the moon since December 2022.
ShadowCam is on the quest for ice, collecting photographs that will aid mission planners in scouting prospective deposit-rich locations. Seasonal variations will be studied, and measurements will be taken inside the darker lunar craters.
"If we have the capacity to collect lunar resources, future trips in deep space will be safer and more inexpensive," stated Jason Crusan, NASA's former director of advanced exploration systems, in a 2017 statement.
The images should eventually aid NASA in determining where to dig. In August 2022, the agency reported 13 probable south pole landing locations for the Artemis III mission, the first in a half-century to bring men to the lunar surface.
The astronauts, including the first woman and person of colour to walk on the moon, would gather samples to send home for examination while on the moon for over a week.
It recently photographed Shackleton Crater, a lunar indentation. Because the picture is so brilliant, the crew can see small details such as the footprints of a 16-foot-wide rock that slid down the crater wall to the bottom.
Shadowcam has shown that it can see better in low light than NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter camera. A side-by-side comparison (above) illustrates how the new camera, on the right, catches the crater's innards.
According to a recent Arizona State article on the project, the temperature becomes a bit too much in the summer to keep the ice solid, going over -261 degrees Fahrenheit.
"At the surface, this location is not the most probable host for frost or ice," according to the article. "Perhaps there is ice or frost waiting to be observed elsewhere in this crater where temperatures are lower."