VIPER will Look for water ice at the south pole craters of the Moon
NASA has determined that people are moving back to the Moon. That is fantastic! A group of things need to occur before that occurs, and robots are involved by a lot of these things. As a type of first-ish measure, NASA is creating a new lunar rover named VIPER (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover). VIPER’s job would be to noodle around the permanently shaded craters at the Moon’s south pole searching for water ice, which may (finally ) be harvested and turned to breathable air and rocket gas .
An engineering model of the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, is tested in the Simulated Lunar Operations Laboratory at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. About the size of a golf cart, VIPER is a mobile robot that will roam around the Moon’s South Pole looking for water ice in the region and for the first time ever, actually sample the water ice at the same pole where the first woman and next man will land in 2024 under the Artemis program.
From the movie, the VIPER engineering version is enjoying playtime in simulated lunar regolith (not things you wish to be breathing, and thus the fancy hats) to help clarify the grip of the wheels on various slopes, and to help determine how much electricity will be critical. The rover might look Somewhat more like that:
VIPER is more than marginally like a previous rover that NASA was working on called Resource Prospector, that was cancelled back in 2018. Resource Prospector was scheduled to visit the south pole of the Moon to search for ice hockey, also VIPER will carry a few of the tools. If it looks a bit weird that NASA cancelled Resource Prospector only to nearly instantly begin work on VIPER, well, yeah–that the main difference between both rovers appears to be the VIPER is meant to devote a few months functioning, while Resource Prospector’s lifespan was just a few months.
The huge difference between Resource and VIPER Prospector is that NASA has been shifting from growing its own hardware all also VIPER is no exception. Among the principal science tools, a drilling system named TRIDENT (The Regolith and Ice Drill for Assessing New Terrain( of course ), comes in Honeybee Robotics, that has led an assortment of tools which were used to poke and prod in the surface of Mars on the Mars Exploration rovers, Phoenix, and Curiosity. Except it resembles NASA needs a shipping system, there is not anything wrong with this.
Last week, Space News reported that NASA is postponing procurement of a commercially-developed lander that could send VIPER into the lunar surface, which means that not only does VIPER have a trip to the Moon at this time, but it’s not too apparent when it will really occur –as recently as last November, the strategy has been to have a lander chosen by early Februaryto get a landing at late 2022. In the sound of things, the issue is that VIPER is a comparatively chunky payload (weighing approximately 350 kg), which means only a few firms have the type of hardware that will have to receive it securely into the lunar surface, and NASA has a restricted budget which also must pay for a lot of other stuff in exactly the identical moment.
This delay is unfortunate, since VIPER has a valuable role in NASA’s complete lunar approach . Locating water on the Moon is your initial step to the in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) robots essential to practically maintain a long-term lunar mission, and after that, it is going to take a lot more work to really deploy a method to harvest ice hockey and turn it into hydrogen and oxygen with sufficient reliability and quantity to create a difference. We’ve got the technology–get it functioning, and we have only got to get there.