The Moon’s South Pole is one of the coldest regions in our solar system. No previous mission to the Moon’s surface has explored it – scientists have so far only studied the area using remote sensing instruments, including those from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and from the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite. Part of Artemis, VIPER will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon-Heavy rocket for delivery to the Moon by Astrobotic’s Griffin lander as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative.
Data from these and other missions have helped scientists conclude that ice and other potential resources exist in permanent shadow areas of the Moon near the poles. Nobile Crater is an impact crater that formed during a collision with another smaller celestial body, and is almost permanently covered in shadows, allowing ice to exist there.
âThe data returned by VIPER will provide lunar scientists around the world with additional insight into the origin, evolution and cosmic history of our Moon, and it will also help inform future Artemis missions to the Moon and to the beyond by allowing us to better understand the lunar environment in these previously unexplored areas hundreds of thousands of kilometers away, âZurbuchen said. Smaller, more accessible craters surrounding the perimeter of Nobile will also provide VIPER with ideal locations to investigate its search for ice and other resources.
“Once on the lunar surface, VIPER will provide ground truth measurements for the presence of water and other resources at the Moon’s South Pole, and the areas surrounding the Nobile crater have shown the most promise in this scientific pursuit. “said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science. at NASA Headquarters. After an extensive landing site selection process, the mountainous area west of the Nobile crater was chosen as the VIPER landing site because of its rover accessible terrain and its array of sites of scientific interest. nearby, including permanently shaded areas.
Selecting the landing site âSelecting a landing site for VIPER is an exciting and important decision for all of us,â said Daniel Andrews, VIPER project manager. âYears of study have gone into assessing the polar region that VIPER will explore. VIPER goes into uncharted territory – informed by science – to test hypotheses and reveal critical information for future exploration of human space. “
“Our assessment of the landing site was driven by science priorities,” said Anthony Colaprete, senior scientist for the VIPER project at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California. “We are looking for answers to some fairly complex questions and studying these resources on the Moon that have stood the test of time will help us answer them.” VIPER’s currently planned trajectory allows the rover to visit at least six sites of scientific interest, with additional time to waste. The NASA team evaluated viable rover crossings, taking into account where VIPER could use its solar panels to recharge and stay warm during its 100-day trip. The area near the Nobile crater offered a lot of flexibility.
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- Title: Lake County News, California – Space News: NASA’s Artemis rover to land near the south pole of the Moon’s Nobile region
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