NASA details where the VIPER rover will land on the Moon: destined to find and analyze water on our satellite
“Polar exploration vehicle for volatile research” is the full name of VIPER, NASA’s next lunar rover. In case its name is not clear, the rover is destined to search for water and other materials on the Moon. Where you land (or land on the moon for the most purists) is essential, as it drastically limits your chances of finding water. Now NASA finally has a spot on the Moon to do it.
VIPER is part of NASA’s Artemis program, which also seeks to bring men (and women) back to the Moon. Although there are still a few years left for that after the delays for the construction of the lander due to the disputes between SpaceX and Blue Origin, satellite missions are taking shape.
VIPER is one of the missions that NASA will send first, with it they seek analyze the lunar soil and subsoil for water. Once it reaches the Moon, it will provide real measurements of the terrain to locate the presence of water and other resources. The main objective is to study the frozen water on the Moon and its origin. That is, how it got there and how it has been preserved to this day.
Destination: South Pole of the Moon by 2023
Although it was already had in mind that the mission was going to be carried out at the South Pole of the MoonNow there is finally an exact area and trajectory for VIPER once it gets there. Due to the permanent shade in this area, scientists have been able to find frozen water that remains there. According to NASA, the South Pole of the Moon is one of the coldest places in the Solar System and no other mission has gone there in person until now. We only have remote data from satellites orbiting the Moon.
Now VIPER will go there to collect samples and analyze them. Specifically will land west of Nobile crater, a mountainous area with relatively rover-accessible terrain and a variety of scientific sites.
Taking into account the relief and geology of the area, NASA has chosen a total of six places where VIPER should go to collect samples. A 100-day mission is planned due to available power limitations and the capabilities of the rover’s solar panels.
The chosen area is approximately 93 square kilometers, although VIPER will travel only between 16 and 24 kilometers. The goal is for you to collect samples from at least three different locations, drilling the lunar subsoil. By doing so, researchers will be able to determine where else there is ice on the Moon based on locations on the Moon that may have similar soil composition. All of this in 2023.
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