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NASA mission to send humans to Mars just took a big step forward

NASA mission to send humans to Mars just took a big step forward

It's a huge step in the end goal of journeying to the Red Planet

The dream of sending people to Mars is taking a massive step forward thanks to another scientific milestone.

Scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Washington DC have long set their sights on astronauts travelling to the Red Planet.

It's an obsession that transcends science - with many films and TV shows based around exploration of Mars.

In the real world, NASA has already sent rovers to the planet, which have recently potentially discovered evidence of past alien life on the planet.

Now, a big step has been taken to replace rovers with people - but everything relies on a celestial body much closer to home: the Moon.

NASA has this week chosen the first science instruments designed for astronauts to deploy on the surface of the Moon during Artemis III; a planned Moon landing that is expected to happen no earlier than 2026.

Once installed near the Moon's south pole, the three instruments will collect scientific data about the Moon's environment as well as its interior.

Artist’s concept of an Artemis astronaut deploying an instrument on the lunar surface.

It'll also look in to how to sustain a long-duration human presence on the Moon. This is the part that will help prepare NASA to send astronauts to Mars.

NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy said: "Artemis marks a bold new era of exploration, where human presence amplifies scientific discovery.

"With these innovative instruments stationed on the Moon’s surface, we’re embarking on a transformative journey that will kick-start the ability to conduct human-machine teaming – an entirely new way of doing science.

"These three deployed instruments were chosen to begin scientific investigations that will address key Moon to Mars science objectives."

CGI of an astronaut on Mars.
Getty Stock Images

The Artemis mission's will hope to understand planetary processes; the character and origin of lunar polar volatiles; and investigate and mitigate exploration risks.

These objectives were chosen because of their installation requirements that are vital for humans to partake in moonwalks.

As well as this, astronauts will also take plants to the Moon under the Lunar Effects on Agricultural Flora (LEAF) programme.

It'll investigate the lunar surface environment’s effects on space crops in what will be the first experiment to observe plant photosynthesis, growth, and systemic stress responses in space-radiation and partial gravity.

CGI of Mars.
Getty Stock Images

When it comes to sending astronauts to Mars, NASA is hoping that this can be a real possibility in the next decade.

Joel Kearns, deputy associate administrator for exploration in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said: "These three scientific instruments will be our first opportunity since Apollo to leverage the unique capabilities of human explorers to conduct transformative lunar science.

"These payloads mark our first steps toward implementing the recommendations for the high-priority science outlined in the Artemis III Science Definition Team report."

Featured Image Credit: Getty Stock Images

Topics: NASA, Space, Technology, World News, US News, Science