NASA has decided to move forward with the final design of a rover that would fly to the moon in 2023 in search of water and ice. The Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) will enter the implementation phase of its final design, following the rover's completion of a preliminary design review in August last year, NASA said Wednesday.
VIPER will travel to the Moon's south pole to map ice and other water sources in support of Artemis, NASA's effort to revive manned space exploration. The space agency wants to prepare for building human presence on the lunar surface.
“Scientific data gathered by VIPER will provide insight into the origin and distribution of water on the Moon, and help us prepare for human exploration by providing important information on the traversability, environment and resources at the lunar poles,” said Sarah Noble, program scientist for VIPER at NASA's headquarters.
NASA designed VIPER with the agility to move around craters and across a variety of surface types. The rover would avoid dark areas while traveling to escape moving shadows and navigate properly, as the Moon's periods of darkness can last several days.