NASA will send a robotic vehicle to the south pole of the moon to examine the location and concentration of ice in the area and to take -for the first time- samples of it, to the same pole where the next man and the first woman are to be landed on the moon in 2024.
The Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, OR VIPER, size of a golf vehicle, will travel several kilometres using its four scientific instruments -including a one-meter drill- for taking various soil samples. The vehicle is intended to be shipped to the surface of the moon in december 2022 to collect 100 days of data, which will be used to create the first water resources maps on the moon.
“The key to living on the moon is water; the same as on Earth”
said Daniel Andrews, project manager of the VIPER mission and director of engineering at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley.
”Since the confirmation (of existence) of the Lunar aquatic ice ten years ago, the question now is whether the moon could actually contain the amount of resources we need to live outside the Earth. This vehicle will help us answer many questions we have about where the water is and how much there is to use. ”
The poles of the moon have always been considered promising areas for the existence of aquatic ice; a resource of great value for people, which could be used for the production of air and fuel for spaceships. In 2009, NASA dropped a missile into a large crater near the south pole and spotted the presence of ice directly. Data from this mission and others have confirmed that on the moon there are reserves of ice, maybe millions of tones. Now the aim is to identify and understand the nature of water and other potential resources in order to plan their extraction and exploitation.