A haunting image shows NASA divers training for a moonwalk on the south pole

The water offers a reduced-gravity environment as close as possible to the moon's.
Loukia Papadopoulos
NASA insignia.NASA

They say that an image can be worth a thousand words.

Such is the case with this recently released picture from NASA, according to a Tweet by the space agency.

The image features NASA divers simulating a pretend moonwalk on the lunar south pole.

A haunting moonwalk training

Moonwalks require extensive training where the lunar surface's rough conditions are recreated. To do this, NASA has often used a large swimming pool called the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory that offers a reduced-gravity environment as close as possible to the moon's.

This week, to mimic the south pole of the moon, NASA divers did their training in the dark resulting in what can only be described as a haunting affair.

"Kill the lights — we're simulating a moonwalk!" NASA wrote in its tweet posted by the agency's Johnson Space Center on Wednesday. "Divers at NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory turned off the lights to simulate what an Artemis astronaut might experience at the lunar south pole — long, dark shadows."

Divers at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory
Source: NASA/Twitter

The Artemis program

All this is in preparation for the agency's Artemis program, NASA's mission to return humans to the moon for the first time since 1972. That was the time when NASA's Apollo program came to an end.

Artemis, however, is very different from Apollo as the mission plans to explore the moon's south pole and not its equator which was the focus of the previous mission. This poses an extra challenge for the space agency as the moon's poles are known to be shrouded in constant darkness.

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Therefore, astronauts on this mission will have to manage to work without any light, a situation this week's training adequately recreated. All this means that we are privy to an amazing image that eerily gives us a heads up of what astronauts will have to face once on the moon's south pole. The only difference perhaps will be the bubbles seen above the divers' heads.

Many questions arise before this mission such as: will the astronauts find water on the south pole as scientists have predicted? will they be able to cope with the constant darkness? what else might they discover in this unchartered territory?

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