NASA Announces New Peregrine Lunar Landing Site 05.02.2023 80 2 min read Fully assembled Peregrine lander in final stages of testing. NASA and Astrobotic have announced major changes to the first mission of the Peregrine lunar lander. The news, which comes just days after the latest lander tests were confirmed successful, concerns a landing site on the Moon. This is a completely unexpected change, since it was announced shortly before the launch of Peregrine aboard a new launch vehicle developed by the United Launch Alliance (ULA) – Vulcan Centaur. The mission, which is scheduled to launch in the first half of 2023, will be a real debut for both the lunar lander and the launch vehicle. The latter, as seen in the photo below, is currently being assembled at Cape Canaveral in preparation for the WDR it will be subjected to prior to launch. Peregrine is the first lander of NASA’s CLPS program and will also (almost certainly) be the first American lander to land on the moon in about five decades. On board will be up to 11 scientific instruments from NASA and American universities and research centers. It was originally planned that the device would land in the Lake of Death, located in the northeastern part of the visible face of the moon. This basaltic lava plain was chosen by Astrobotic so that Peregrine could “comfortably” sit on the Moon and operate without much risk. However, in the past few hours, NASA has decided to reverse that choice, favoring a lunar landing at the Gruithuisen Domes, mysterious silicon lava lunar domes. Gruithuisen Domes. Gruithuisen Domes are domes formed from magma rich in material similar in composition to granite. Siliceous lava, which, unlike the liquid and thin basaltic lava flows that cover the surrounding lunar landscape, flows less uniformly. They are located on the northeast edge of Oceanus Procellarum or the Ocean of Storms and will be studied, no earlier than 2026, by another CLPS mission. In fact, NASA plans to send the Lunar Vulkan Imaging and Spectroscopy Explorer (Lunar-VISE) scientific instruments to the Moon. The goal is to study the origin and composition of these mysterious domes. Peregrine will most likely be selected again to conduct Lunar-VISE, although the possibility of using GRIFFIN, a larger device being developed by Astrobotic, is being considered. Despite the sudden news of a change in the lunar landing site, there have recently been signs of a possible change in NASA’s plans. During a presentation at the NASA Planetary Science Advisory Committee on December 6, 2022, a map of the landing site for the Peregrine lunar lander was presented. It was this map that showed that the lunar lander was “conveniently” located in the area surrounding the Gruithuisen Domes. Perhaps the hype around the Peregrine in connection with the latest pre-launch checks has diverted attention from this detail, as a result of which it was not given too much importance. Thus, in February, we received three key news ahead of the launch: the Peregrine lander was declared ready, the lunar landing site was finally determined, the Vulcan launcher was being finalized. Three factors that make us look forward to the announcement of the date for the launch of the Peregrine lander to the Moon from Cape Canaveral for one of the most important lunar missions of 2023.

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