The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER), which will be deployed on the Moon in late 2023 to prospect for water ice that could support future human missions, will be delivered by US space robotics technology Astrobotic Technology.
VIPER will investigate the moon for 100 days, roving over several miles and sampling various soil environments. In addition, the rover will take core samples of up to three feet.
The rover's data, including the location and concentration of ice, will be used to inform the first global water resource maps of the Moon. Other scientific will also inform the selection of future landing sites for astronaut Artemis missions by helping to determine locations where water and other resources can be harvested to sustain humans during extended expeditions.
“The VIPER rover and the commercial partnership that will deliver it to the Moon are a prime example of how the scientific community and U.S. industry are making NASA’s lunar exploration vision a reality,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in an 11 June press release. “Commercial partners are changing the landscape of space exploration, and VIPER is going to be a big boost to our efforts to send the first woman and next man to the lunar surface in 2024 through the Artemis program".
“It is an enormous honor and responsibility to be chosen by NASA to deliver this mission of national importance,” said Astrobotic CEO John Thornton. “Astrobotic’s lunar logistics services were created to open a new era on the Moon. Delivering VIPER to look for water, and setting the stage for the first human crew since Apollo, embodies our mission as a company".