Tuesday, June 25, 2024

NASA tests VIPER, its rover that will track icy water on the Moon

NASA is preparing the mission that will bring Man back to the Moon in 2024. After revealing that the first Artemis program’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is already built and ready for a marathon testing, the US Space Agency is also training a lunar rover to find deposits of water ice at the Moon’s South Pole.

At the Simulated Lunar Operations Laboratory at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, is learning how to “get started” on terrain that mimics the lunar surface with the help of the engineers who developed it. The tests are intended to make an assessment of the vehicle’s traction mechanism and its wheels, figuring whether it will have enough power to venture across the uneven lunar terrain, the Agency explains.

About the size of a golf cart, the VIPER should be sent to the Moon at the end of 2022. There, the mission will be to travel several kilometers in search of the natural resource that may be essential to human existence on the natural satellite in the Artemis mission. Through its four scientific instruments, VIPER will gather the information that will be used to create the first lunar water maps.

Scientists believe there is a large concentration of water ice in craters on the South Pole of the Moon that could be used for human consumption on future lunar expeditions. Most ice deposits have been discovered in the darkest and coldest areas of the polar regions, where warmer temperatures never reach above -250 degrees Fahrenheit.