THIS WEEK @NASA: Lunar Landing Site Selected for Artemis Rover, Lunar Crater Named After Matthew Henson

By  //  September 25, 2021

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ABOVE VIDEO: Positioning the agency for future success, a lunar landing site selected for a robotic explorer, and highlighting diversity on the Moon … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

Leadership Positions Agency for Future Mission Success

On Sept. 21, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and other senior officials hosted an agency town hall from our Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters building in Washington to announce that …

“Going forward, we will reorganize the agency’s human spaceflight programs into two separate mission directorates.”—Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator

Kathy Lueders will serve as associate administrator of the new Space Operations Mission Directorate, which will focus on launch and space operations in low-Earth orbit, including commercialization, the International Space Station, and eventually, operations on and around the Moon. Meanwhile, Jim Free returns to the agency to serve as associate administrator of the new Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate.

“Exploration Systems Development will focus on what comes next. Both mission directorates are engineering the future of our Moon to Mars exploration approach from different ends of the spaceflight continuum.”—Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator

Creating these two separate mission directorates …

“… is about the future of space exploration. It’s about setting up NASA for success.”—Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator

NASA will implement these new mission directorates over the next several months, while remaining focused on the safety of ongoing operations for commercial crew and upcoming Artemis missions.

Lunar Landing Site Selected for Artemis Rover

We have selected the region just outside the western edge of Nobile Crater at the Moon’s South Pole as the landing site for our Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, mission. The robotic rover will be delivered to the Moon in 2023 through our Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative. VIPER will map and explore this region for water and other resources. The mission will provide further insight into our Moon’s cosmic origin, evolution, and history, and also help inform future Artemis missions to the Moon and beyond.

Lunar Crater Named After Matthew Henson

The International Astronomical Union has accepted the proposal of a summer intern in a NASA-affiliated program to name a crater at the Moon’s south pole after arctic explorer Matthew Henson, a Black man who in 1909 was one of the first people to make it to the north pole on Earth. The Moon’s south pole is also the region in which NASA will land the next humans on the lunar surface as part of our Artemis program. Artemis will send a diverse group of astronauts to the Moon, including the first woman and the first person of color.

Preview of Landsat 9 Mission

The launch of the joint NASA and U.S. Geological Survey Landsat 9 satellite mission is targeted for Sept. 27 from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base. Data from the satellite will be added to Landsat’s nearly 50-year, free and publicly available data record of Earth’s landscapes taken from space and will continue the program’s critical role in monitoring the health of Earth and helping people manage essential resources.

Moon to Mars Ice and Prospecting Challenge

The Moon to Mars Ice and Prospecting Challenge, near our Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., provided an opportunity for student teams from U.S. universities to devise revolutionary technologies and methods to drill into and extract water from simulated lunar and Martian subsurface ice stations. The challenge is part of a NASA effort to enable a sustained human presence on other worlds by potentially making use of the available resources on those worlds.

That’s what’s up this week @NASA