NASA today announced that it has changed the planned landing site on the Moon for Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander, presently scheduled for launch at the end of March on the first flight of ULA’s new Vulcan rocket.
The original landing site for Astrobotic’s flight within Lacus Mortis, which is in the northeast quadrant of the lunar nearside of the Moon, was chosen by Astrobotic to suit its lander performance and safety, as well as Astrobotic’s preferences. However, as NASA’s Artemis activities mature, it became evident the agency could increase the scientific value of the NASA payloads if they were delivered to a different location. The science and technology payloads planned for this delivery to the Moon presented NASA scientists with a valuable opportunity, prompting the relocation of the landing site to a mare – an ancient hardened lava flow – outside of the Gruithuisen Domes, a geologic enigma along the mare/highlands boundary on the northeast border of Oceanus Procellarum, or Ocean of Storms, the largest dark spot on the Moon.
The white dot on the map to the right shows this location. The original location was to the west of Atlas Crater in the northeast quadrant of the Moon’s near side, where Ispace’s Hakuto-R lunar lander plans to touch down in April.
This decision by NASA was apparently prompted by the decision to send Intuitive Machines Nova-C lander to Vallis Schröteri in Oceanus Procellarum, which is the rill that flows west out of the crater Aristarchus. Gruithuisen Domes had been a potential landing site for Nova-C, and NASA probably did not want to lose an opportunity to go there.
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