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NASA Picks Landing Locations For Moon Rover Mission

NASA is sending a robotic rover to look for water-ice near a crater at the Moon’s South Pole. The rover in 2023 will land near the western edge of Nobile Crater, a 73km-wide depression that is almost permanently in shadow.

The Viper mission will support plans for human exploration of the Moon, because the ice could be mined for use as drinking water and rocket fuel.NASA wants to return astronauts to the lunar surface this decade. The space agency’s Artemis programme will see the first woman and the first person of colour land on the Moon. It could pave the way for a long-term human presence on Earth’s sole natural satellite.

Daniel Andrews, Viper’s project manager from NASA Ames Research Center in California, said that the 2023 rover mission would help scientists understand how easy or difficult it would be for humans to extract the water-ice. He explained that if the resources are plentiful and accessible, it will really change the nature of sustaining humans and also help us understand the nature of how we retrieve those resources.

Much evidence shows that there are billions of tonnes of lunar ice locked up in polar craters that never see sunlight and where temperatures dip as low as -370F. Being in permanent shadow creates the stable and very cold environment necessary to preserve large frozen deposits.Daniel Andrews said Viper – which stands for Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover – could help scientists understand key questions about the ice deposits, such as where the ice is, what concentrations, and their depth.

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