NASA to send mobile robot to search for water, other resources on Moon in late 2023

The data that will be received from VIPER will have the potential to aid scientists in determining the exact concentrations and locations of ice on the Moon.

Created On: May 26, 2021 13:40 ISTModified On: May 26, 2021 13:40 IST

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has announced its first mobile robot to the moon in late 2023. The rover will search for ice as well as other resources on and below the lunar surface.

Data collected from the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER), as part of the Artemis Programme, will help the scientists in mapping the resources at the lunar south pole that can one day also be harvested for long-term human exploration on the moon.

Throughout the Artemis Program, the US Space Agency will be sending humans and robots to explore more of the moon than ever before.

When the astronauts will return to the moon's surface for the first time since 1972, they will be following in VIPER’s wheel prints and will land at the lunar south pole.

As per NASA, that mission will also include landing the first woman on the moon. She will be one of the two crew members and will pave a way for sustainable lunar exploration missions with the crew.

About Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER):

VIPER will explore lunar craters with the use of a specialized set of wheels and suspension systems for covering a variety of inclines and soil types.

The rover’s design has been enhanced upon a former robotic concept to prospect the moon known as Resource Prospector, which was canceled by NASA in 2018.

Since then, the time duration of the VIPER mission was increased from one to three lunar days (100 Earth days). VIPER has also been evolved to increase its science capabilities and allowing more data collection on the moon.

Running on the solar power, the rover will need to manoeuvre around the extreme wings in light and dark at the moon south pole.

According to the Programme Scientist for VIPER at NASA Headquarters, Sarah Noble, VIPER will be the most capable robot that NASA has ever sent to the lunar surface and it will allow exploring parts of the moon that has never been seen.

What will be the significance of data from VIPER?

As per the Director of NASA’s planetary division at the headquarters of the agency, Lori Glaze, the data that will be received from VIPER will have the potential to aid scientists in determining the exact concentrations and locations of ice on the Moon.

The data will help in evaluating the potential resources and environment at the lunar south pole in preparation for Artemis astronauts.

Glaze added that this is yet another example of how human exploration and robotic science missions go hand in hand and why both are extremely necessary as we prepare to establish a sustainable presence on the moon.

About NASA’s Artemis Program:

The Artemis Program is a US-led international human spaceflight program. It was launched by NASA in 2017 to return humans to the moon, particularly the lunar south pole region, in the mid-2020s.

If it will be successful, the Artemis program will be the first crewed lunar mission since the end of the Apollo program in 1972.

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