Scientists at NASA are stepping up efforts to tap the moon’s potential through a series of new missions to eventually return humans to the moon’s surface,media BGR reported. One of the unmanned missions is called VIPER (known as the Volatile Survey Polar Explorer, Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover). As the name suggests, the rover will explore and find resources on the moon’s south pole, and the biggest item on its treasure hunt is water. But first, it needs to actually land on the moon.
NASA announced Thursday a new partnership with Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic, which will receive nearly $200 million to develop a lunar lander that viPER robots will fly to the lunar surface.
“It is a great honor and responsibility to be chosen by NASA to complete this nationally important mission,” Astrobotic CEO John Thornton said in a statement. “Astrobotic’s lunar logistics service was created to usher in a new era on the moon. Shipping VIPER to find water lays the foundation for the first human crew since Apollo and embodies our company’s mission. “
We already know that there is water on the moon. Most of them are locked in ice, and the moon’s surface is thought to contain a lot of water. In certain areas of the moon, such as the poles, large craters may contain large amounts of water ice where sunlight is not possible. VIPER’s trip to the moon’s south pole will allow it to collect samples of surface material and analyze them. Data on the composition of the material will be sent back to Earth to provide NASA scientists with important information about the region’s resource potential.
The mission could start as soon as 2024, but at the same time, NASA will send some of the VIPER robot’s equipment to the moon for testing. These instruments must prove their value, and engineers will have the opportunity to resolve any problems before the VIPER rover begins its mission, which is expected to last about 100 Earth days.