Where on the moon the VIPER moonship will look for ice

Where on the moon the VIPER moonship will look for ice

The VIPER robot will explore ice west of the Nobile crater near the southern pole of the Moon, as recently reported by NASA. The VIPER will take off at the end of 2023 on a heavy SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket and then land on the Moon with a landing vehicle built by Astrobotic.

The American Artemis program is designed to send people back to the moon in the next decade. Unlike the Apollo program, this time it will be a permanent settlement on our satellite. To ensure the success of this incredible project, astronauts will naturally rely on cargo sent from the Earth, but they will also have to rely as much on local resources as possible, especially water. Once treated, it can be used for food or for the production of oxygen and fuel for future landing vehicles and missiles.

On our satellite, this valuable commodity can only be found in the form of ice, mainly in the shaded parts of the South Pole, where the Artemis programme is planned to be established, and it will be important for NASA and its partners to estimate the amount of this resource in the region in advance, and NASA will therefore send a VIPER to the satellite.

The ice hunter.

The American agency has just announced that the Volatiles Invastigating Polar Exploration Rover robot will use a one-metre-long drill sent by a neutron spectrometer designed to detect weter areas below the surface. Two other on-board spectrometers will then be used to analyse collected samples. It is expected that this work will last at least 100 Earth days.

VIPER will fly to the Moon in 2023 on board the Griffin landing vehicle, also proposed by Astrobotic, a heavy rocket launched by SpaceX Falcon Heavy. The total cost of this mission is expected to be about $660 million.

Finally, NASA also contracted with the Houston Intuitive Machines to land another ice-mining machine on the southern pole of the Moon next year, and the machine called PRIME-1 will be dropped on the moon by a NOVA-C landing vehicle. This will be the first ever mission to collect water ice from the moon's subsoil.