Nowadays when it comes to space exploration Mars is often the main topic. This is due to the great boost that the exploration of the red planet has received in recent years.
NASA, however, has begun to gradually return to lunar exploration and recently announced the construction of a new lunar rover. The Viper, which is already under construction, will be a cubic-looking machine that is similar in size to a golf cart. Although not the first wheeled vehicle on the moon, it is the first autonomous vehicle whose purpose is to explore the natural satellite.
The Viper will target Relay crater, at the south pole of the natural satellite, and will face a mission lasting just 100 days during which it will look for the existence of frozen water on the lunar soil. It is also expected that the rover will cover 6 potential locations for the existence of water in one of the coldest parts of the Moon. , thus facilitating communications.
The rover will be equipped with a neutron spectrometer, capable of analyzing the ground indirectly, by identifying energy losses in cosmic rays created by hydrogen molecules. Also present will be a new drill system, nicknamed “TRIDENT”, capable of drilling and extracting soil samples for analysis with the NIRVSS. This third system, whose name is pronounced nervous (nervous), it is also an infrared spectrometer that is able to identify simple hydrogen molecules or hydroxyl complexes.
This new lunar mission thus ends up being a precursor to future missions of the Artemis program, whose objectives are lunar flights and the permanent human presence on this satellite. The Viper is scheduled to launch in 2023, while the first manned flight of the Artemis program is scheduled for the following year, which will leave NASA with less than a year to prepare for the return of humans to the Moon.