Future NASA astronauts will enjoy the strange motions of Earth and its sun from their position on the south pole, if a new animation by the agency is any indication.
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio at Goddard Space Flight Center, Maryland, released this short video. It compresses a simulated viewpoint of three months (or just over three lunar days), into only two minutes. The Earth can be seen moving up and down, while the sun glides gracefully around the horizon.
You can watch the video closely and you will see an eclipse of Earth pass in front of the sun. This is the opposite lunar eclipse that we can observe from Earth.
This is a lunar eclipse. The moon passes through the Earth's shadow. However, when viewed from the moon, it is an eclipse of sun," NASA studio stated in the video description.
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NASA visual artists have created a view of Earth looking south from the moon's South Pole. NASA image credit
The animation's virtual camera is located on the Shackleton Crater rim, visible at the bottom right. It is directed towards Earth. This is the exact same area that NASA intends to use for its Artemis moon landing missions.
With a team of robotic explorers and a fleet of boots on the surface, the agency plans to launch its mission later in 2020s. These payloads are collectively called the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program (CLPS). They could reach the moon as soon as 2022.
The agency announced that NASA's Artemis 1 mission will launch in February 2022. It is an uncrewed loop around Earth and back again. Technical issues caused delays to the mission several times.
Artemis 2, a crewed lunar orbiting mission, is the next mission. It will carry the first Canadian astronaut to the moon's surface. It is expected to take place in 2023. NASA hopes that Artemis 3 will land in 2024.
These dates could change once Artemis 1 is completed and technology development and financing are more advanced. According to NASA's inspector general, the deadline for 2024 for Artemis spacesuits is too far off.