NASA set to launch rover to identify ice concentration on Moontext_fields
Washington: NASA has announced it will launch the first mobile Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) as part of the Artemis programme to the Moon in late 2023 in search of ice and other resources on and below the lunar surface.
Lori Glaze, director for NASA's Planetary Science Division at the agency's headquarters in Washington said that she hoped robotic science missions and human exploration would go hand in hand to help establish a sustainable human presence on the moon.
The would help the scientists' map resources at the lunar South Pole that could one day be harvested for long-term human exploration at the Moon, the agency said in a statement late on Friday.
"The data received from VIPER has the potential to aid our scientists in determining precise locations and concentrations of ice on the Moon and will help us evaluate the environment and potential resources at the lunar south pole in preparation for Artemis astronauts," said Glaze.
The solar-powered rover will explore lunar craters using a specialised set of wheels and a suspension system to cover a variety of inclines and soil types. It will be under pressure to work quickly given the limited availability of light as the poles switch from light to darkness quickly.
"VIPER will be the most capable robot NASA has ever sent to the lunar surface and allow us to explore parts of the Moon we've never seen," said Sarah Noble, programme scientist for VIPER at NASA Headquarters. Since then, the VIPER mission duration was extended from one to three lunar days (100 Earth days).
Throughout the Artemis programme, NASA will send robots and humans to explore more of the Moon than ever before.
When astronauts return to the lunar surface for the first time since 1972, they will follow in VIPER's wheel prints and land at the lunar South Pole.
"That mission will include landing the first woman on the Moon. She will be one of two crew members paving the way for sustainable lunar exploration missions with crew," NASA said.