Moon Launch Live: SpaceX Launches Rocket to Moon's Mysterious South Pole | Science & Technology News

Lander Goes Deeper Than Ever Into Moon's Polar Regions – Humans in NASA's Eyes

For NASA, the goal of its partnership with SpaceX and Intuitive Machines is to study the Moon in preparation for landing astronauts at its South Pole in 2026.

The mission, named Artemis, seeks to explore an untapped part of the moon and begin human presence on its surface.

Water is key to the mission.

NASA believes there may be hundreds of billions of gallons at the moon's poles escaping the sun's heat.

Abundant water hydrates astronauts and splits the water molecule so that oxygen and hydrogen can be used as rocket fuel for breathing.

This would reduce the cost of exploring the Moon, and open up the possibility of using the Moon as a stepping stone to Mars.

That's why Intuition Machines 1 (IM-1) aims to land farther south than any other spacecraft, near the Malabert-A crater at 80.4 degrees.

But its goal isn't to find water—that comes later. IM-1 ensures that safe landing technologies are operational and that manned missions can communicate with Earth in extreme polar environments.

NASA is sending test equipment to measure speed, distance and how much fuel is left in the tanks, equipment to communicate with mission control, and dropped navigation beacons to aid future missions.

One of those missions will be IM-2 later this year, which will visit a ridge next to the even deeper Shackleton Trench in the polar region.

On board is what NASA calls a Polar Resources Ice Mining Experiment — a drill and equipment to analyze samples — that will search for ice deep below the surface.

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It's the first time humans have sent a robotic craft into a heavily shadowed crater — and the mission should give us strong evidence of water ice.

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