VIPER Rover to Search Resources on Moon

Recently, US space agency NASA has announced to send its first mobile robot to the Moon in 2023. Mobile robot will search ice and other resources on and below the surface of moon. This mission is an example showing “robotic science mission” and “human exploration” go hand in hand.

Key facts

Mobile robot is a part of Artemis programme. It will collect data from Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) and help scientists in mapping the resources at South Pole of the lunar which have the potential to be harvested for long-term human exploration. Data obtained from VIPER can aid the scientists to determine precise locations and concentrations of ice on the lunar surface. They can also evaluate environment and potential resources at south pole.

About VIPER

VIPER stands for Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover. It is a lunar rover which NASA has developed to explore south pole of the moon. It will be delivered to surface of Moon in November 2023. The rover will explore the lunar resources in permanently shadowed areas of south pole region of Moon. It will help in mapping water ice distribution and concentration. This mission is based on previous cancelled NASA rover concept called Resource Prospector. The rover will be carried through Griffin lander of Astrobotic under the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative of NASA.

Significance of Lunar South Pole

South Pole of Moon attracts most of the scientists because of occurrence of water ice in permanently shadowed areas. The region features unique craters because near-constant sunlight does not reach to their interior. These craters are cold traps comprising of fossil record of hydrogen, water ice, and other such volatiles.

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