NASA announced Wednesday that an ice-mining mission will be sent to the moon’s south Pole by NASA. It is expected to arrive in orbit in late next year.

The mission will travel to a ridge near the Shackleton crater in late 2022. This is an area where NASA scientists and engineers believe there could be ice below the surface. 

This region, which has been studied over’months’, receives enough sunlight for a lander to power a 10-day mission. However, it is still within easy reach for communications.

Scroll down to view video 

It will be the first occasion that resources are extracted from the moon. This could help NASA establish a presence there, especially for the Artemis missions. 

NASA has teamed up with Intuitive Machines (the agency’s partner in commercial deliveries to the Moon), for the mission. It will use Intuitive’s Nova-C lander.

NASA will send an ice-mining experiment to the moon's south pole, scheduled for late 2022, using Intuitive Machine's Nova -C lander (pictured)

NASA will send an experiment to mine ice at the moon’s south pole using Intuitive machine’s Nova-C lander (pictured).

The mission will head to a ridge close to the Shackleton crater (pictured) by late 2022, an area where NASA engineers and scientists believe could have ice below the surface

The mission will travel to a ridge near the Shackleton crater (pictured), by late 2022. This area is believed to have ice beneath the surface, according to NASA engineers and scientists.

According to the agency, this area and the conditions it creates offer the best chance of proving that the three technologies aboard the robotic lander work.

  • The Polar Resources Ice-Mining Experiment-1, (PRIME-1).
  • Nokia of America Corporation has developed a 4G/LTE communications system.
  • Micro-Nova is a deployable hopper robot created by Intuitive Machines.

‘PRIME-1 has been permanently attached to Intuitive Machines NovaC lander, and it was difficult to find a landing spot where we might find ice within three feet of its surface,’ stated Dr Jackie Quinn who is the PRIME-1 project manager at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. 

Although there is enough sunlight to power the payloads’ solar panels, the surface is too hot to sustain ice within the reach of the PRIME-1 drill. We had to find a site that would get enough sunlight to power the mission requirements, but also provide good Earth communications. 

The Shackleton crater gets enough sunlight to power a lander for a 10-day mission

The Shackleton Crater receives enough sunlight for a lander to power a 10-day mission.

In October 2020, NASA chose Nokia to build the first cellular network on the moon ahead of the 2024 Artemis mission. 

The PRIME-1 drill (also known as TRIDENT) will attempt to drill three-feet of lunar soil (regolith), once the lander reaches the moon’s south pole. Once it reaches the surface, it will search for water.

MSolo, the other PRIME-1 instrument will measure gases that escape from TRIDENT’s regolith. 

NASA, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab and Nokia were among the researchers who created ‘ice-mining maps of the surface with remote sensing data.  

NASA added that drilling into the lunar surface and operating it will give engineers valuable insight for future lunar missions like the Volatiles Investigation Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER mission, which is due to land at South Pole in late 2023.

Nokia will test the cellular network with a Lunar Outpost-developed rover. It will be more than a mile from the Nova C lander to check the strength of its network.

NASA stated that it could be a commercial 4G/LTE network, with high-definition video from base stations, vehicles, and other astronauts, if it’s successful.

Niki Werkheiser is the director of technology maturation at NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. 

“The data will inform the designs of future in-situ resources utilization, mobility and communication, power, and dust mitigation abilities.   

NASA will land the first woman on the Moon and the next man on it in 2024 as part the Artemis mission

Artemis was the twin sister Apollo and goddess of moon in Greek mythology. 

NASA has chosen her to personify its path back to the moon, which will see astronauts return to the lunar surface by 2024 –  including the first woman and the next man.

Artemis 1, previously Exploration Mission-1-1, is the first mission in a series of increasingly complex missions to allow human exploration to Mars and the moon. 

Artemis 1 will be the first integrated flight test of NASA’s deep space exploration system: the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the ground systems at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.  

Artemis 1 will be an uncrewed space flight that will serve as a foundation for deep space exploration by humans. It will also demonstrate our ability to extend human life to the moon and beyond. 

This flight will see the spacecraft launch on the world’s most powerful rocket and fly further than any other spacecraft designed for humans.

It will travel 280,000 miles (450 600 km) from Earth and thousands of miles beyond Earth over the course of a three-week mission. 

Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the moon and Mars. This graphic explains the various stages of the mission

Artemis 1, also known as Exploration Mission-1 is the first of a series that will allow humans to explore the moon and Mars. This graphic explains each stage of the mission.

Orion will be in space for longer than any other spacecraft for astronauts and will return home faster and more hotter than ever before. 

NASA is leading the next step of human exploration into deepspace with this first exploration mission. Astronauts will build and test the systems near the Moon to enable lunar surface missions and exploration to other distant destinations, such as Mars, and astronauts will continue testing these systems. 

The will take crew on a different trajectory and test Orion’s critical systems with humans aboard. 

Orion, SLS, Kennedy’s ground systems, and Orion will all be able to meet deep space’s most demanding crew and cargo mission requirements.

NASA hopes to establish a permanent human presence on the moon in 2028 with the Artemis mission.

The space agency hopes this colony can make new scientific discoveries, showcase new technological advancements, and provide the foundation to private companies that will build a lunar economy.