NASA chooses moon landing site for ice-hunting rover
The US space agency NASA has chosen the moon landing site for a new explorer in search of ice which should arrive in 2023.
The explorer, or rover, will be sent to an area on the moon’s south pole called Nobile Crater. The robotic vehicle is called Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER.
The objective of VIPER will be “to map and explore the Regions surface and subsoil for water and other resources, ”NASA said in a recent announcement.
The Nobile crater formed as a result of a crash with a space object.
VIPER measures 1.5 meters by 1.5 meters by 2.5 meters. It weighs 430 kilograms. Unlike rovers used on Mars, VIPER can be flown almost in real time, as the distance from Earth is much shorter.
VIPER works on solar energy and comes with a battery life of 50 hours drums which was built to withstand extreme temperatures. It was designed with the ability to “walk” to the side so that its solar equipment could stay pointed at the sun.
The mission is part of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to land the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024. The long-term goal of the program is to establish a continued human presence on the moon.
NASA says it will be the first mission to explore the surface of the Moon’s south pole. It is one of the coldest regions of our solar system. So far, it has only been studied by orbiters and satellites observing the moon. Data gathered from these observations has led scientists to believe that ice and other resources likely exist in areas near the moon’s poles. Some of these areas remain permanently blocked from the sun.
NASA says these areas can reach temperatures as low as minus 248 degrees Celsius. Scientists believe the frozen water at the South Pole could date back billions of years.
Lori Glaze is the Director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division. She told reporters: “The rover will approach lunar soil even drilling several meters below. “
NASA says the search for ice on the moon is important because it is seen as a necessary resource for future exploration activities. Astronauts could use ice to drink water and to cool equipment or make rocket fuel for missions deeper into the solar system.
NASA says it has chosen a mountainous area at the western end of the Nobile Crater for the landing because it contains many “nearby sites of scientific interest.” It also has surfaces that the rover can explore effectively.
Daniel Andrews oversees the VIPER project. He said in a statement that “years of study” have been spent examining the polar area the rover will explore. “VIPER enters unexplored territory – informed by science – to test hypotheses and reveal critical information for the future exploration of inhabited space.
NASA hopes that the data and samples that VIPER collects will help scientists find other places where water might exist on the moon. The mission also aims to help NASA better understand how frozen water first reached the moon and how it may have survived for billions of years.
I am Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from NASA and Agence France-Presse. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
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Words in this story
crater – not. a round hole made by an explosive force such as a bomb or an object falling from the sky
Region – not. a particular area
drums – nm an electric cell or electric cells connected to provide electric current
mission – not. an important project or trip, notably involving a trip to space
drill – v. using a tool or machine to poke holes in a hard substance
unexplored – adj. an area that has not been mapped and has not been described
hypothesis – nm an idea or explanation of something that is based on known facts but has not been proven
reveal – v. to make known something that is surprising or that was previously secret
sample – not. a small amount of something that gives you information about the thing it was taken from