NASA is planning to deploy a robotic rover to the moon to study the presence of water ice on or below the lunar surface, Space News reported Sunday.
Jim Bridenstine, administrator of NASA and 2019 Wash100 Award recipientÂ said in a speech at the 70th International Astronautical Congress that the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover will be sent to the moonâs south pole in 2022 through a commercial lander as part of the agencyâs Commercial Lunar Payload Services program.
âWeâre going to characterize the water ice, and ultimately drill and find out just how the water ice is embedded in the regolith on the moon,â he noted.
Under the $250 million VIPER effort, the rover will traverse the south pole for 100 days and detect subsurface ice deposits which will be assessed through mass and near-infrared spectrometers.
Jay Jenkins, program executive for theÂ Science Mission Directorate’sÂ Office of Exploration, said in a prior event that VIPER âheavily leveragesâ engineering operations for the Resource Prospector mission, which was canceled in 2018. NASA intends to select one or more contractors under the CLPS program by the end of 2019.