NASA presented some of the tools from the lunar astronaut kit for the Artemis 3 mission

Artemis 3 astronauts will be the first to set foot on the lunar surface in more than 50 years, ushering in a new era of lunar exploration. And NASA has selected the most suitable instruments for use by astronauts, designed to test the feasibility of a long-term human stay on the Moon.

NASA has unveiled the first scientific instruments that Artemis astronauts will take with them to the Moon and deploy to the south pole. The three instruments were chosen for the Artemis 3 mission, scheduled to launch in September 2026, specifically because they require humans to install them.

Among the kit is the Lunar Environment Monitoring Station (LEMS), which NASA says is a compact, self-contained array of seismometers designed for continuous, long-term monitoring of seismic conditions. Simply put, this device will help detect moonquakes. By collecting data on ground movement, scientists hope to better understand the structure of the lunar crust and mantle, as well as how the Moon formed and evolved over time.

The experiment, called Lunar Impact on Agricultural Flora (LEAF), will study the possibility of growing crops on the Moon to provide nutrition and sustenance for astronauts. LEAF represents “NASA’s first experiment to observe plant photosynthesis, growth, and systemic stress responses under cosmic radiation and partial gravity conditions.” China did something similar back in 2019, when its miniature biosphere experiment sprouted a single cotton seed on the lunar surface.

The third part of the kit is the Lunar Dielectric Analyzer (LDA), which will measure the ability of the lunar regolith to propagate an electric field. It will also look for possible signs of frost and ice deposits. Water is obviously critical to sustaining life on long-term missions—and not just for quenching thirst. Water can be used to produce oxygen (used in life support systems and agriculture) and to produce fuel.

Artemis 3 will land on the moon’s south pole, an area that has not yet been explored by humans and contains permanently shadowed regions where pockets of ice may exist beneath the surface. In addition to the potential to find lunar resources at the south pole, the region presents a unique opportunity to uncover the origin story of Earth’s natural satellite.