US space agency Nasa has chosen the first two scientific investigations that will support its upcoming mission to the Moon.

The investigations will fly aboard the Gateway, an orbital outpost that will support Artemis lunar operations while indicating the technologies required conducting a historic human mission to Mars.

The instruments will observe space weather and monitor the Sun’s radiation environment.

Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine said: “Building the Gateway with our commercial and international partners is a critical component of sustainable lunar exploration and the Artemis program.

“Using the Gateway as a platform for robotic and human exploration around the Moon will help inform what we do on the lunar surface, as well as prepare us for our next giant leap – human exploration of Mars.”

The sun radiation instrument was built by the European Space Agency (ESA) and aims to keep astronauts safe by monitoring the radiation exposure in Gateway’s unique orbit.

In addition, the space weather instrument was built by Nasa to observe solar particles and solar wind created by the Sun.

The space weather instrument suite will accumulate data and improve Nasa’s ability to forecast events originating from the Sun that could affect the astronauts on and around the Moon, as well as future missions to Mars.

Nasa associate administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said: “Our Sun and the environment around it is very dynamic.  This instrument suite will help us observe the particles and energy that our star emits — and mitigate the risks to astronauts at the Moon and eventually Mars.

“Not only will we learn more about our space environment, but we’ll also learn how to improve forecasting space weather wherever the Artemis Generation journeys away from Earth.”

Nasa said additional scientific payloads will be selected to fly aboard the Gateway in the future. These investigations will take advantage of the unique environment in lunar orbit, one that cannot be duplicated on Earth or on the International Space Station.

The Gateway will orbit near the Moon and be periodically occupied by astronauts as part of Nasa’s sustainable lunar exploration plans.