Apollo 17 astronauts saw strange flashes on the moon. Will Artemis crews see them too? | Space

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Specialists are now pulling together potential photography assignments for NASA’s crewed Artemis 2 moon flyby, now projected to occur in September 2025.

Tucked inside their Orion spacecraft, they will be hurled moonward by NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and travel roughly 4,600 miles (7,400 km) beyond the far side of the moon during the nearly 10 day voyage. To help them prepare for their journey, lunar scientists have started plotting out photographic nice-to-have “Kodak Moments” for the four-person Artemis 2 crew to consider during out-the-windows viewing.

Surprisingly, one conceivable duty for the astronauts will be keeping an eye out for flashes of light on the lunar surface. It turns out that during the Apollo lunar landing program, astronauts observed three impact-induced flashes caused by meteors. What are the odds Artemis astronauts could see the same?

Related: Boom! Japanese astronomer catches meteorite smashing into the moon (video)

Color variations

“We have been working with the Artemis 2 crew to identify imaging and observation targets/plans for them during their journey to and from the moon,” says Noah Petro, project scientist for Artemis 3 and is the current project scientist for NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission.

Petro told Space.com that plans are being scripted on taking advantage of the Artemis 2 crew to observe and photograph the moon as regularly as the flight plan allows.

A focus of these preparations is choosing photographic targets for the period of time during the crew’s closest approach of the moon, Petro says. “At that time our plan is to have the crew members observe the moon, looking for color variations on the surface, as was observed from orbit by multiple Apollo crew members.”

Also, the Artemis 2 crew could make observations of the texture and properties of the surface, Petro adds, to either validate or refine spacecraft data that already exists.

Flight plan for NASA’s Artemis 2 crewed swing-by of the moon. 

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