NASA Unveils Lunar Monitoring Device For 2026 Moon Landing

Space agency reveals tool to measure moonquakes, part of Artemis III mission to explore lunar environment and potential for human presence.

<p>Artist's concept of an Artemis astronaut deploying an instrument on the lunar surface. PHOTO BY NASA/SWNS  </p>

NASA has revealed the first tool humans will land on the Moon in 2026 is a device that measures moonquakes.

The space agency said Tuesday, March 26 the Lunar Environment Monitoring Station (LEMS) would warn of seismic activity in the south polar region.

The device has been chosen among the first science instruments designed for astronauts to deploy on the lunar surface during the Artemis III mission.

The others include an instrument to see how the environment may affect so-called “space crops”, and one to help look for possible frost formation or ice deposits.

The Orion spacecraft, a partially reusable crewed spacecraft used in NASA’s Artemis program, with European Service Module (left), Earth (middle) and the Moon (right) in November 2022. PHOTO BY NASA/SWNS 

Artemis III is the first mission in over 50 years to return astronauts to the surface of the Moon, with NASA aiming to land the first woman and first person of color.

NASA says: “Once installed near the lunar South Pole, the three instruments will collect valuable scientific data about the lunar environment, the lunar interior, and how to sustain a long-duration human presence on the Moon, which will help prepare NASA to send astronauts to Mars.”

NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy says: “Artemis marks a bold new era of exploration, where human presence amplifies scientific discovery.

“With these innovative instruments stationed on the Moon’s surface, we’re embarking on a transformative journey that will kick-start the ability to conduct human-machine teaming – an entirely new way of doing science.

The Orion spacecraft, a partially reusable crewed spacecraft used in NASA’s Artemis program, with European Service Module (left), Earth (middle) and the Moon (right) in November 2022. PHOTO BY NASA/SWNS 

“These three deployed instruments were chosen to begin scientific investigations that will address key Moon to Mars science objectives.”

Joel Kearns, deputy associate administrator for exploration in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, says: “These three scientific instruments will be our first opportunity since Apollo to leverage the unique capabilities of human explorers to conduct transformative lunar science.

“These payloads mark our first steps toward implementing the recommendations for the high-priority science outlined in the Artemis III Science Definition Team report.”

NASA add that all three payloads were selected for further development to fly on Artemis III that’s targeted to launch in 2026, however, final manifesting decisions about the mission will be determined at a later date.

The Lunar Environment Monitoring Station (LEMS) is a compact, autonomous seismometer suite designed to carry out continuous, long-term monitoring of the seismic environment, namely ground motion from moonquakes, in the lunar south polar region. The instrument will characterise the regional structure of the Moon’s crust and mantle, which will add valuable information to lunar formation and evolution models. It is intended to operate on the lunar surface from three months up to two years and may become a key station in a future global lunar geophysical network.

Lunar Effects on Agricultural Flora (LEAF) will investigate the lunar surface environment’s effects on space crops. LEAF will be the first experiment to observe plant photosynthesis, growth, and systemic stress responses in space-radiation and partial gravity. Plant growth and development data, along with environmental parameters measured by LEAF, will help scientists understand the use of plants grown on the Moon for both human nutrition and life support on the Moon and beyond.

The Lunar Dielectric Analyzer (LDA) will measure the regolith’s ability to propagate an electric field, which is a key parameter in the search for lunar volatiles, especially ice. It will gather essential information about the structure of the Moon’s subsurface, monitor dielectric changes caused by the changing angle of the Sun as the Moon rotates, and look for possible frost formation or ice deposits.

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