NASA is planning a mission to the dark side of the moon.
The space agency has announced three commercial delivery missions to the moon’s surface, stretched across multiple trips per year. Two of these trips will focus on the far side, or the ‘dark side’, of the moon.
One of those expeditions will carry two seismometers (an instrument used to detect and record earthquakes) as part of the preparation for the Artemis program to put astronauts back on the moon and establish a long-term base there. The other will deliver the Lunar Instrumentation for Thermal Exploration with Rapidity pneumatic drill as well as the Lunar Magnetotelluric Sounder, which will be used to investigate heat flows and electrical conductivity of the Schrödinger basin – a large impact crater near the lunar South Pole.
“These investigations demonstrate the power of CLPS to deliver big science in small packages, providing access to the lunar surface to address high priority science goals for the Moon,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, in a statement.
“When scientists analyse these new data alongside lunar samples returned from Apollo and data from our many orbital missions, they will advance our knowledge of the lunar surface and interior, and increase our understanding of crucial phenomenon such as space weathering to inform future crewed missions to the Moon and beyond.”
Elsewhere, NASA‘s Curiosity Rover has captured images of the rare, iridescent clouds that exist on Mars.
According to a NASA press release, the clouds are rare on the Red Planet owing to its dry, thin atmosphere. Clouds can typically be seen on the planet’s equator during the time Mars is farthest from the sun.