NASA searches for liquid gold on the moon – not for oil, but for old water. If we want to be there permanently, we will need it. That's why it's crucial to learn as much as possible about it. For this reason, the agency is sending a rover called VIPER to the South Pole of the Moon – its first long-term surface mission since 1972.
VIPER or the Volatile Investigating Polar Exploration Rover are planning to land in December 2022 when all is well. Their mission: to directly observe and quantify the presence of water in the permanently shaded polar regions.
These ever-dark areas of the moon have been collecting water ice for millions of years, as there is no sunlight to melt or vaporize it. NASA already confirmed the presence of water ice by pushing a probe into the general area, but that's a bit rough, is not it? It's better to send in a robot to make accurate measurements.
VIPER will be about the size of a golf cart and will be equipped with equipment that equals the use of equipment. With its neutron spectrometer system (mentioned yesterday by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine prior to this announcement), the rover can detect water below the surface.
If above a water deposit, VIPER will use the Regolith and the Ice Drill to explore new terrain or TRIDENT. In any case, the best acronym I've encountered this week. TRIDENT is a meter-long drill that provides samples for analysis with the other two instruments of the rover, a pair of spectrometers that can be used to evaluate the soil content.
In this systematic and large-scale way, the team wants to accomplish the following Create a map of subsurface water resources that can be analyzed for larger patterns ̵
The rover is currently under development, as you can see from the pictures above – the right picture is the " Mobility Bench ", where the team can test how it will move, as you can imagine.
VIPER is a temporary mission; If you work on the poles, you can not harvest sunlight with solar panels, so the rover has all the energy it needs to last around a hundred days. That's longer than the US has been on the moon for a long time – though China has been actively using rovers everywhere in recent years.
Interestingly, the rover is planned for use via a commercial Lunar payload service. This means that one of these companies may build the lander that will move it from orbit to the surface. Expect more to hear as we approach the start.