The POT plans to send its first mobile robot to the Moon in late 2023 in search of ice and other resources on and below the lunar surface, whose use facilitates exploration by humans.
The design of the rover, called VIPER, requires the use of the first headlights of a lunar rover to help explore permanently shadowed regions of the Moon. These areas have not seen sunlight in billions of years and are some of the coldest spots in the solar system. Powered by solar power, VIPER will have to maneuver quickly around extreme changes of light and dark at the lunar south pole.
“The data received from VIPER has the potential to help our scientists determine precise locations and concentrations of ice on the Moon and will help us assess the environment and potential resources at the lunar south pole in preparation for the Artemis astronauts.” , He said it’s a statement Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Division of Planetary Sciences at the Agency’s Washington headquarters.
NASA awarded a work order to Astrobotic for the launch, transit and delivery of VIPER to the lunar surface as part of the Agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative.
Once in the Moon, the rover will explore the lunar craters using a specialized set of wheels and a suspension system to cover a variety of slopes and types of soil. The rover design significantly improves on an old robotic concept for prospecting the Moon called Resource Prospector, that NASA canceled in early 2018. Since then, the duration of the VIPER mission has been extended from one to three lunar days (100 Earth days). VIPER has evolved to increase its scientific capabilities, allowing for greater data collection on the lunar surface.
VIPER will carry four instruments, including the hammer drill, (TRIDENT), a mass spectrometer (MSolo), an infrared spectrometer (NIRVSS) and a neutron spectrometer (NSS). Previous versions of these instruments will be tested on the lunar surface prior to the VIPER mission, allowing the team to reduce risk and test instrument performance data.
Scheduled to arrive via the first flight of Astrobotic, MSolo, NVSS and NIRVSS They are among the payloads that will land on the lunar surface in one of the first CLPS deliveries to the Moon. The TRIDENT and MSolo versions will travel to the Moon in late 2022 aboard the PRIME-1 technology demonstration mission, delivered by Intuitive Machines on its second CLPS flight.