On April 3, NASA introduced the crew for Artemis II, which can see astronauts spending as much as three weeks on a flyby journey to the moon in 2024. This mission would be the first time in additional than 50 years that people will go to the moon—or depart low Earth orbit—since Apollo 17 in 1972. And a Canadian might be onboard this milestone mission: astronaut Jeremy Hansen.
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I’m a professor, an explorer and a planetary geologist. For the previous decade, I’ve been serving to to coach astronauts from Canada and the USA in geology, together with Hansen. I’m additionally the principal investigator for the Canadian Lunar Rover Mission.
Following the success of Artemis I in late 2022, Artemis II is the subsequent mission within the Artemis program—and the precursor to sending people again to the floor of the moon.
Scheduled to launch in late 2024, Artemis II will obtain a number of firsts: it will likely be the primary time people will fly in NASA’s Orion spacecraft and the primary mission to take people past low Earth orbit since Apollo 17 in 1972.
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After the launch of Artemis II, the 4 astronauts will spend just a few days in a excessive Earth orbit, which is over 30,000 kilometres [18,640 miles] farther out than the orbit of the Worldwide House Station (ISS). There, they are going to take a look at all of the techniques earlier than the Orion spacecraft fires its predominant engine to take it to the moon for a flyby earlier than returning to Earth.
Whereas not equivalent in design, Artemis II goals to realize what Apollo 8 did in 1968, which is to ensure the whole lot works in preparation for Artemis III, which can take people again to the floor of the moon.
Canadian circling the moon
For many people, the actual fact that the Artemis II crew has been introduced is thrilling sufficient because it brings us one step nearer to the return of people to the moon.
However for Canada, it will go down as one of many largest moments in our area program’s historical past: onboard this mission might be Canadian astronaut, Jeremy Hansen. It will make Canada solely the second nation on the earth, after the U.S., to ship a human to deep area.
Col. Hansen was born in London, Ont., and raised on a farm just a few kilometres north. After graduating from highschool, he attended the Royal Navy School of Canada in Kingston, the place he earned a bachelor of science in area science after which a grasp of science in physics. He then joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1994 the place he turned a CF-18 fighter pilot.
In 2009, Hansen was one among two recruits chosen by the Canadian House Company (CSA). The opposite was David Saint-Jacques, who spent six months onboard the ISS in 2008-09.
Not solely will Hansen be the primary ever Canadian to enterprise into deep area, he might be doing so on his first ever spaceflight!
These are thrilling occasions for Canada when it comes to lunar exploration. As introduced in November final yr, the Canadian Lunar Rover Mission would be the first ever Canadian-led mission to the floor of one other planetary physique.
With a launch deliberate for 2026, our staff is making vital progress in the direction of finalizing the design of the rover and its scientific devices. We’re additionally figuring out a shortlist of potential touchdown websites across the South Pole of the moon.
We received’t have to attend three years, nevertheless, for the primary Canadian know-how to succeed in the lunar floor.
Simply final week, the HAKUTO-R Mission 1 spacecraft efficiently went into orbit across the moon after 100 days in area. Onboard the lunar lander scheduled for landing in late April are two Canadian payloads funded by the CSA’s Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program: the MoonNet deep studying software program from Mission Management House Companies in Ottawa, and an AI-enabled 360-degree digital camera from Canadensys Aerospace, based mostly in Bolton, Ont.
In case you missed it, the CSA obtained funding for the subsequent section of the Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program within the latest federal price range, making certain that these alternatives for Canadian firms and universities to ship applied sciences to the moon will proceed.
In one other price range shock, the federal government additionally dedicated $1.2 billion over 13 years to develop a lunar utility automobile to help astronauts on the moon.
Lunar analysis, terrestrial advantages
As we await Artemis II, area businesses are focusing analysis on how you can maintain human presence on the lunar floor. To take action would require progressive options to maintain astronauts alive and wholesome on the lunar floor for as much as months at a time.
The floor of the moon is much extra excessive than Earth, with no ambiance and temperatures dropping to a staggering -200 C [-328 F]. Nonetheless, there are some similarities that distant, remoted communities right here on Earth face on a day-to-day foundation, significantly in northern Canada.
A serious a part of holding astronauts wholesome is feeding them. In fact, they might survive on vacuum-sealed meals introduced from Earth, however in the long term, this isn’t sustainable.
Recognizing the similarities of manufacturing meals in distant and harsh environments each right here on Earth and in area, NASA and the CSA launched the Deep House Meals Problem to develop new progressive meals manufacturing applied sciences.
The hope is that by determining how you can develop meals on the moon, the applied sciences can be used right here on Earth to deal with rising meals shortages.
Now that the Artemis II crew has been introduced, they are going to be spending each minute of their obtainable time making ready for the mission. For Hansen, it will entail studying the tons of of various techniques on the Orion spacecraft.
Hopefully, it can additionally embody a geology refresher in order that he can higher perceive what he sees as he flies across the moon.
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