NASA's top lunar targets
The space agency designed its lunar strategy with 10 landing sites in mind.
NASA's Exploration System Architecture Study (ESAS) asked a group of planetary scientists what lunar locales they'd most like to visit. The purpose, explains John Connolly, deputy ESAS lead, was to make sure the lunar transport system the study devised had the capability of reaching all of those locations.
"There were polar sites, there were equatorial sites, there were Apollo revisits, and there were farside sites," Connolly says. "We wanted a system both Crew Exploration Vehicle [CEV] and lander that could get to any point on the lunar surface and return at any time." The group used these sites as test cases to see how the new CEV and lunar-lander designs fared. "We wanted to make sure we had a system that performed as advertised."