Home North pole ice NASA targets the Moon’s South Pole for rover mission

NASA targets the Moon’s South Pole for rover mission

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The South Polar Region is a unique place on the moon where the sun appears very low in the sky. Like the Arctic in late spring, it circles the horizon completely without setting. But this low angle of the sun means that its rays do not reach the bowls of some deep craters, so they are in permanent darkness where the temperature drops to -248 ° C, making the region one of the most colds of the solar system. This permanent cold preserved the ice on the moon for perhaps billions of years. VIPER will determine how much ice is buried there and eventually determine where it comes from.

To manage these extreme temperatures, the rover will use heights to recharge its batteries with solar panels, then briefly head for the craters, the first space robot equipped with headlights, to prospect for ice. VIPER will carry instruments to analyze the ice to determine if it is really water ice as we know it on Earth, or a form of hydrogen called hydroxyl and if there are other materials. such as methane ice. This could provide clues as to how the ice got to the moon, if it was part of the original material that gave birth to our satellite, or if it came from the icy comets that hit the moon and all the planets. during the first days of the sun. system. There is a story to tell out there before consuming it.

Having these products nearby on the moon would be a lot cheaper than bringing them from Earth. But before the ice is dug up for consumption, there is significant scientific work to be done on material that is probably very, very old. NASA’s plan to bring humans back to the moon, the Artemis mission, also targets the south polar region of the moon in part because of this ice. The idea is to have the lunar colony near a valuable resource.

The image shows the distribution of surface ice at the south pole (left) and north pole (right) of the Moon, detected by NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper instrument. (NASA) A large deposit of ice on the moon would be an extremely valuable resource, both as a source of water for lunar colonists and, when broken down into hydrogen and oxygen, for rocket fuel and oxygen that the settlers can breathe.

Another interesting aspect of this mission is the way it is carried out by the trading companies. SpaceX will provide a Falcon Heavy rocket that will reach the moon, while the Astrobotic company is building its Griffin lander to bring the rover to the surface. A data visualization showing the mountainous area west of the Nobile crater and the smaller craters littering its rim at the lunar South Pole where the VIPER rover will explore. (NASA)

This is yet another example of how NASA leaves the task of reaching space to the private sector. If the moon’s colonization continues, there will undoubtedly be future companies that will mine this ice and sell it. Who knows? Maybe someday there will be a company that sells ice cubes that are a billion years old. I wonder how long they would last in a glass?

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  • Title: NASA Targets South Pole Of Moon For Rover Mission
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