NASA has come up with a brand new spacecraft designed to be used in its lunar mission to find out water and ice near the moon’s South Pole. Experts believe that the presence of water in the moon is going to be a crucial resource for future lunar missions.
Jim Bridenstine, the NASA Administrator officially unveiled the project at the 70thInternational Astronautical Congress that was held on October 25 in Washington. However, those associated with NASA have been openly discussing the project for quite some time here and there. The project has been named dubbed the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover or VIPER.
Speaking at the conference, the NASA Administrator quipped that VIPER is being designed to patrol the Lunar South Pole and assess the presence of water ice accurately. Spacecrafts orbiting the moon has helped scientists to establish that our only natural satellite is full of ice. However, the exact positioning and mapping of the location of the water can reshape and restructure of future lunar missions –both manned as well as robotic.
The presence of water is an extremely important and significant source of life support – quite obviously. Water ice is the source of oxygen as well as drinkable. Then it can be broken into oxygen and hydrogen, with oxygen used for human survival and hydrogen acting as effective fuel for the Space Launch System(SLS) vehicles and in shuttles to be used to ferry the astronauts to and from earth and moon.
The VIPER probe will be almost of the dimension of golf carts and is likely to land on the moon’s surface by the end of 2022. The total cost of the project has been estimated at $250 million. a commercial lander will carry VIPER to the moon’s surface and release it. Hence, NASA is inviting companies from around the world to submit plans of heavy landers capable of carrying and releasing the probe.