NASA’s VIPER rover to land on Moon’s Nobile Crater in 2023, know all details

Know why NASA will launch VIPER rover on Moon’s Nobile Crater in 2023?

NASA’s VIPER rover, Source: NASA
NASA’s VIPER rover, Source: NASA

NASA on September 20, 2021, announced that it would land a water ice-hunting rover on a region of the South Pole of the Moon known as the Nobile Crater in 2023. NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) will land on Nobile Crater at the Moon’s South Pole to map and explore the region’s surface for water. As a part of Artemis mission, VIPER will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon-Heavy rocket under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative.

About Nobile Crater on the Moon

Nobile Crater is an impact crater in the South Pole region of the Moon. It was formed due to a collision with another small celestial body. It is almost permanently covered in shadows which makes the perfect environment for ice to exist.

The South Pole of the Moon is one of the coldest regions in our solar systems. No mission has ever landed on the Moon’s surface to explore it. So far, scientists have studied the region with remote sensing instruments including those on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite. Data from these prior remote sensing missions helped scientists conclude that water ice and other resources exist under the surface in permanently shadowed areas of the Moon near the Poles.

NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) is the first that will go close and personal with the lunar soil. It will even drill several feet down the crater.

What is VIPER?

VIPER known as Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover is a mobile robot developed by NASA that will land on a region on the South Pole of the Moon known as the Nobile Crater in 2023.

VIPER is similar to the size of a golf cart. It measures 5 feet by 5 feet by 8 feet (1.5 meters by 1.5 meters by 2.5 meters) and weighs 950 pounds (430 kilograms). The top speed of VIPER is 0.5 mph (0.8 kph).

VIPER will go on a mission duration of 100 Earth days which is 3 cycles of lunar day and night.

What will VIPER do?

The VIPER Rover will explore the presence of water and other potential resources at the Moon’s South Pole and the surrounding areas. The VIPER will study Moon’s origin, evolution, history, and understand the lunar environment for future Artemis missions to the Moon. It will also study how did frozen water come on the Moon.

The Solar-charged Rover will study the Nobile Crater region across an approximate surface area of 36 square miles (93 square kms). VIPER will be the first rover with headlights as it will explore the dark side of the Moon where the Sunlight never reaches. The Rover will move across chosen areas of scientific interest and collect samples from at least three drill locations.

Also read: NASA detects 1,000 Near-Earth Asteroid – All you need to know

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