Image credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University


A possible NASA Artemis 3 Moon landing spot has been eyed by NASA’s veteran Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, making use of its high-powered LROC imaging system.

Malapert massif, an informal name, is a glorious peak (lower left of image) thought to be a remnant of the South Pole – Aitken basin rim, which formed more than 4 billion years ago. 

LROC shuttered this view on March 3 when the Moon orbiting spacecraft was about 12 miles (20 kilometers) beyond Shackleton crater looking towards the nearside.

From this viewpoint, the back side of Malapert massif can be seen, assuming an Earth-centric reference.

The Artemis 3 candidate landing region is partially visible from this viewpoint.

Image credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

Sheer grandeur

The relatively flat area (86°S, 0°E) above the “5000” in this image (right) is the heart of the Artemis 3 landing region, which continues down the slope toward the Earth, as seen here.

Reports LROC’s principal investigator, Mark Robinson of Arizona State University:

“Imagine the view from the summit; it rises more than 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) above its base. Off in the distance, you could see a 3,500 meter (11,480 feet) tall cliff. One could argue that the sheer grandeur of this region makes it a prime candidate. But then again, a landing here might be too exciting?”

Shown here is a rendering of 13 candidate landing regions for NASA’s Artemis III mission. Each region is approximately 9.3 by 9.3 miles (15 by 15 kilometers). A landing site is a location within those regions with an approximate 328-foot (100-meter) radius.
Image credit: NASA

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