Watch: Virtual tour of Moon's South Pole in two Earth months

It’s cold, dark, and might hold the key to life on new worlds.

David Ladd, NASA Goddard/USRA

NASA/Zuber, M.T. et al., Nature, 2012

Ernie Wright, NASA SVS/USRA

But it’s what’s inside those frigid craters that matters: they might be storehouses for frozen water.

NASA’s Artemis mission, which aims to land humans on the moon by 2024, will search the south pole for water and other resources.

In the meantime, researchers are analyzing the best places for future missions to set up shop.

David Ladd, NASA Goddard/USRA

David Ladd, NASA Goddard/USRA

Here’s a map of where the sites stand on the South Pole, with noted sun visibility all day.Michael Barker, NASA Goddard

David Ladd, NASA Goddard/USRA

The study was released alongside a stunning visualization of the Moon’s South Pole, comprised of images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Here’s what roughly 60 Earth days looks like on the Moon’s South Pole:


NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

For humans travelling to the poles, ideal landing sites will be at higher elevations near the craters to ensure that there’s enough sunlight to power up rovers and other tools.

Michael Barker, NASA Goddard

NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

Only time will tell if there’s water — or something else — lurking in the darkness.