What simply occurred? NASA has delayed the launch of the upcoming Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (Viper) by a full yr as a way to conduct extra floor testing of the Griffin touchdown module.
In 2020, NASA contracted Astrobotic of Pittsburgh to construct and ship a rover to the Moon by late 2023. The rover shall be tasked with looking the lunar floor for ice and different potential assets, and can return information to assist scientists be taught extra in regards to the origin and distribution of water on the close by satellite tv for pc.
The unique contract was valued at $199.5 million, however with this most up-to-date extension and others, it now totals $320.4 million.
The Griffin lunar lander will ship the rover to the lunar floor as a part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative. CLPS is a key cog in NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration plan, each of which can assist lay the inspiration for future visits to the Moon and past.
Knowing the placement of beneficial assets like water may assist NASA in deciding on future touchdown websites. Others may use information from Viper when constructing underground bases or synthetic gravity colonies, and native assets may make it simpler for future astronauts to journey to Mars.
Viper is the biggest and most subtle science payload to be delivered to the Moon via CLPS, so that they wish to be certain all of their geese are in a row. It’ll weigh round 1,000 kilos and pack 4 science devices able to analyzing soil samples. An built-in drill will permit the rover to bore down practically three ft into the lunar floor.
The rover is predicted to spend round 100 days exploring the Moon’s South Pole, however it’d all be for naught if the rover cannot make it there safely. NASA mentioned the extra testing will scale back the general danger related to supply.
Viper is now on monitor to be delivered to the South Pole of the Moon by November 2024. Fingers crossed that we can’t see any extra delays (or finances hikes) between from time to time.