UAF researcher helps NASA find landing site for Artemis missions

NASA is looking to return to the moon for the first time since 1972 and UAF is playing a part in making that happen.
Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 6:14 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Indujaa Ganesh, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) has been helping NASA find landing sites for the Artemis missions meant to return astronauts to the Moon.

Ganesh was part of a NASA internship during the pandemic, which focused on evaluating a list of potential sites that would be used as base camps for Artemis, which intends to land a crew on the lunar surface for the first time since 1972.

Ganesh and her colleagues accounted for factors such as natural light, proximity to water, ice, and the geological make up of the areas being considered. All of the sites are in or around the Moon’s south pole which experiences long periods of exposure to sunlight much like the poles on Earth. The increased sunlight would allow the astronauts more time and a safer environment to conduct their experiments. Research on the geological make up of the Moon is important to NASA because it “will help us understand how the Moon formed into a wad,” Ganesh said.

Learning more about lunar ice is also important because NASA hasn’t done any in-person experiments with the substance before, and the crews might utilize the ice as a resource on longer mission.

“We’ll start with a few hours of activity. Then, as we progress with the set of missions, it’s going to turn into something that is quasi-semi-permanent-ish,” Ganesh said, explaining that NASA intends to increase the duration of surface missions on the Moon during the Artmeis program - missions that could last weeks or months.

All of this work to return to the Moon is part of a presidential space policy directive to “enable human expansion across the solar system,” according to NASA’s website.