NASA VIPER Rover To Land On Moon’s Nobile Crater; Aims To Find Ice Water In 2023

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NASA is gearing up for the Artemis mission, which would be sending astronauts to the Moon once again after decades. At the same time, NASA has also announced it would land an ice-seeking rover on the Moon's southern region called the Nobile Crater. NASA has even decided on a timeline for the rover landing in 2023.

 
NASA VIPER Rover To Land On Moon’s Nobile Crater

"Nobile Crater is an impact crater near the south pole that was born through a collision with another smaller celestial body," said NASA's planetary science division, Lori Glaze. To note, the Nobile Crater is one of the coldest regions on the lunar surface, which is said to pack water ice pockets. So far, the South Pole of the Moon has only been probed from far with sensors on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite.

NASA Ice-Seeking Rover Mission

Looking back, ISRO first confirmed that there was a presence of water on the lunar surface. Now, NASA aims to send the rover to confirm water ice on the Moon. This might be one of NASA's most ambitious missions are the space agency aims to convert water ice into rocket fuel for the Mars mission as well as space travel deeper into the cosmos.

The NASA ice water mission to the Moon will involve a robotic rover called Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover or VIPER for short. The rover is roughly sized similar to a golf cart. It measures five feet by five feet by eight feet (1.5 meters by 1.5 meters by 2.5 meters) and weighs 950 pounds (430 Kgs). In fact, it bears a large similarity to the droids one sees on the Star Wars franchise.

The rover is going to get up close and personal with the lunar soil, even drilling several feet down, NASA said in a statement. The VIPER rover's key mission is to find how the frozen water reached the Moon in the first place. And also, how it stayed that way for billions of years. Moreover, the rover will also try and find how the water escapes and where it goes now.

 
NASA VIPER Rover To Land On Moon’s Nobile Crater

NASA VIPER Different From Mars Rovers

The NASA VIPER rover is also different from the Mars rovers on multiple factors. For one, VIPER can be piloted and communicated in real-time as the distance between the Earth and the Moon is significantly lesser than between Mars and the Earth. Also, the VIPER rover is much faster than its Mars counterparts, moving at 0.8 kph.

The NASA VIPER rover is packed with a 50-hour battery and is designed to withstand extreme temperatures. The rover moves like a crab, pushing forward sideways. This effectively allows the rover to keep its panels pointing towards the sun to keep charging. With the rover in place, NASA aims to push forward the ambitious Artemis mission.

To note, the NASA Artemis mission aims to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon. From here, NASA aims to send astronauts further into space, starting with Mars. The space agency hopes to tap into the ice water on the Moon to fuel future space missions.

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