"There are, of course, no cows on the Moon."

Moon Walkers

In September 2026, NASA is hoping to land the first astronauts on the surface of the Moon in over 50 years as part of its Artemis III mission, a highly ambitious endeavor that will require the space agency to move a figurative mountain of contractors and logistics.

Needless to say, preparations are long underway. Recently, for instance, NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and Andre Douglas simulated several "moonwalks" in the northern Arizona desert, leading to a series of inspiring and admittedly amusing photos released by the space agency this week.

Amusingly, NASA photos even show the duo encountering a cow.

Close EnCOWnters

Instead of donning their entire, pressurized spacesuits — just getting them on will likely be a highly complex maneuver — the pair wore equipment-laden backpacks and mockups of their movement-restricting spacesuits that weighed 70 pounds, making for a highly unusual photo op.

Traditionally, spacesuits used during NASA's Apollo missions have proven to be extremely difficult to move in, making grasping and kneeling down infamously awkward, particularly in the greatly reduced gravity of the Moon.

Teams even went as far as to simulate sunset and sunrise while roaming the lunar surface using an extremely bright spotlight. On the Moon's southern pole, the Sun "moves across the horizon, skimming the surface like a flashlight lying on a table," as NASA explains.

"Night simulations show us how tough it is for the astronauts to navigate in the dark," said NASA mineralogist Cherie Achilles in a statement. "It’s pretty eye-opening."

Meanwhile, some curious bovine onlookers gawked at the pair while they were analyzing the local environment.

"There are, of course, no cows on the Moon," NASA helpfully added, sharing a picture of a curious bull staring at the two astronauts.

The two astronauts were also tasked with sending collected data about a simulated Moon rock to a nearby team. During Artemis III, NASA plans to use data collected by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to provide its astronauts with a detailed geological map.

As far as the mission is concerned, the space agency still has its work cut out for it. For one, no astronaut has yet launched into space onboard the agency's Orion spacecraft.

And to get down to the surface, NASA is hoping to leverage SpaceX's Starship spacecraft, which has only made it to orbit once without any crews on board and has yet to stick the landing on Earth, let alone the Moon.

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