FILE PHOTO: A passenger plane is seen with the full moon behind as it begins its final approach to London Heathrow Airport, England, September 24, 2018. REUTERS / Toby Melville
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – NASA will send a golf cart-sized robot to the moon in 2022 to search for subsurface water deposits, an effort to assess the vital resource before a planned human return to the moon in 2024 to possibly use It's for astronauts to drink and produce rocket fuel, the US space agency said on Friday.
The VIPER robot will travel miles (kilometers) on the dusty lunar surface to see more closely what NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine has disclosed for months: underground pockets of “hundreds of millions of tons of water ice” that could help Turn the moon at a starting point for Mars.
“VIPER will evaluate where the water ice is. We will be able to characterize water ice and finally drill, ”Bridenstine said Friday at the International Astronautic Congress in Washington. "Why is it important? Because water ice represents something significant. Life support.
VIPER stands for Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover.
The rover is expected to reach the southern polar region of the moon in December 2022, carrying four instruments for sampling lunar soil for traces of hydrogen and oxygen – the basic components of water that can be separated and synthesized into fuel for a fleet. planned lunar commercial launch vehicles.
Under development at NASA's Ames Research Center in California, the VIPER robot will record "about 100 days of data that will be used to inform the moon's first global water resources maps," NASA said in announcing the plans.
NASA is in the process of launching its Artemis program, an accelerated mission to get people back on the moon for the first time since the 1970s to train and prove technologies that would later be deployed on a mission on Mars. Scientists have considered lunar water an essential resource for enabling long-lasting astronaut missions on the moon, although its exact shape and amount is unknown. VIPER will aim to find out.
NASA launched a rocket at the moon's south pole in 2009 to confirm traces of moon ice in the impact-raised dust cloud.
Joey Roulette reporting; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Will Dunham
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