The aerospace engineer and expert in astrophysics, the Cartagena Eloy Pena Asensio, is undoubtedly one of the most brilliant minds that the port city has produced in recent decades. At only 30 years old, he is one of the participants in the program Artemis of Nasa will become reality. A project whose objective is, nothing less, that humanity set foot on the Moon in 2025.
A Peña, researcher at Autonomous University of Barcelona and of Space Science Institute (CSIC), was awarded one of five scholarships awarded by the Lunar Science and Exploration Center, attached to NASA, out of more than 500 people who applied. Some research fellowships which he says “are very difficult to get and are usually given, for the most part, to people from the United States.” Currently working between Lunar and Planetary Institute and the Johnson Space Centersituated in Houstonthe operations and communications center where astronauts train and which is responsible for carrying out all the studies and analyzes related to the activities they carry out.
Specifically, this aerospace engineer from Cartagena work in groups to assess the trips astronauts will make once they land on the moon. As he explained, his team is tasked with figuring out “where they can travel, what they can see, and what may pose a hazard along the way.” With regard to the latter, they are carrying out a study on the amount of sunlight available to astronauts, an aspect of great importance for electricity generators and for temperature, since, according to Peña, in the shade of the moon is drops drastically to -250 ºC in the absence of an atmosphere. The objective of the Artemis mission is to send astronauts to the south pole of our natural satellite, an area where the Sun does not rise towards the zenith, but is low on the horizon, which generates very long shadows, therefore “It is crucial to choose the route with the most lighting, “stressed Peña.
One of Artemis’ goals is to extract ice and therefore water from the moon’s craters
To plot extravehicular steps, this team of experts must also take into account the topography, since the Moon is full of impact craters resulting from the bombardment of asteroids and comets. “It’s hostile terrain to walk on, covered in a sandy material called regolith and full of steep cliffs,” Peña pointed out. In turn, as he pointed out, “the craters are what give meaning to the mission, because being engulfed sunlight never comes, so it is very likely that they are retaining ice on the bottom”. An ice that we want to harvest to extract drinking water and which can also be used to generate products that can be used to propel rockets. In this regard, one of NASA’s long-term goals is to make the Moon a port of call and refueling in order to carry out space missions to other more distant planets, because “leaving the Land is very expensive.” because it has a lot of mass and atmosphere, unlike the Moon,” Peña explained.
Artemis, the prelude to the first trip to Mars
The Artemis program aims to establish a long-term presence both on the lunar surface and in orbit. It consists of three main phases: Artemis I, which will take place in late August or early September and whose objective is to send an unmanned probe around the Moon; Artemis II (2023), to put a ship back into orbit, but this time with astronauts; and Artemis III (2025 or 2026) in which astronauts will land on the surface of the satellite. NASA considers this project to be the prelude to sending the first astronauts to Mars in the future from 2033.
everything this project will last three months and it must be done “years before the moon landing”, he stressed. Peña is the only Spaniard in his team, made up mostly of Americans, but also with the presence of people from other countries such as the United Kingdom, India or Dominica. David Kringone of the scientists who participated in the discovery of the impact site of the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs, is in charge of leading the group.