NASA has announced that it has chosen three different scientific payloads under the Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative, which is a component of the Artemis program. The Artemis program aims to send humans back to the moon for the first time since the Apollo era. One of the three missions NASA has chosen will be landing on the far side of the moon facing away from Earth.
That mission will be the first time NASA has placed a payload on the far side of the moon. That particular mission aims to gather data about the area as a potential future destination for Artemis astronauts to land. While putting a payload on the lunar far side is a first for NASA, it’s not the first time that has been done. China put its Chang’e-4 mission on the lunar far side in 2019.
NASA has a lot to learn about the far side of the moon before we attempt to put astronauts there for exploration. One proposal selected by NASA will land on an impact crater called the Schrödinger basin with the goal of better understanding tectonic activity on the lunar Far Side. Another project is called the Farside Seismic Suite. The goal of that mission is to spend several months collecting data using a pair of seismometers.
The mission will gather information on lunar tectonic activity. It could help NASA learn how the far side of the moon is impacted by small meteorites while providing data on the moon’s internal structure. Findings from that mission will complement seismic data gathered by another payload heading to the Schrödinger basin called The Lunar Interior Temperature and Materials Suite.
That mission will have two instruments meant to investigate lunar heat flow and electrical conductivity. The third mission is called the Lunar Vertex and will land in Reiner Gamma, which is one of the most visible lunar swirls that we can see on earth. How exactly the lunar swirls form is a mystery, but scientists believe it’s related to anomalies with the moon’s magnetic field. Lunar Vertex includes a lander and rover with the primary mission of taking measurements of the magnetic field for scientific study. NASA wants the missions on the moon by 2024.