ORLANDO, Fla. — Scientists at the University of Central Florida are playing a crucial role in helping to return United States' astronauts to the moon.
With President Trump tasking NASA with a moon landing by 2024, those scientists are working to preserve previous landing spots by making sure the next landing isn't too close to them.
"We need to make sure we don't land too close to those spots," said Dr. Phil Metzger, a UCF planetary scientist. "We need to make sure the blowing ejecta doesn't damage them, (and) doesn't knock the flag over."
The world stopped in 1969 to watch Neil Armstrong step out of the Eagle lander and touch down on the lunar surface. The last astronaut stepped off the moon in 1972 and hasn't been returned to since in a manned mission.
UCF is working on a lunar lander sensor to determine how far the dust and debris from the next generation moon lander will go. The goal is to determine where astronauts can land safely without the Apollo sites being destroyed, which could be easier said than done.
China, which landed a rover on the dark side of the moon, is busy mapping future mining missions that could also disrupt the Apollo sites, depending on the landing locations.
"I've spoken with archeologists and anthropologists who tell me that those sites on the moon are the most significant archeological sites in the entire human sphere," Metzger said.
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