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NASA's VIPER helps pave the way for return to the Moon



As reported by Space.com, NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) had its mast installed for its mission to the moon later this year. The photo above, taken in a clean room at the Johnson Space Center, shows the progress on the next-generation rover which now stands at 2.4 meters (8 feet) tall. VIPER is expected to land at the Moon’s South Pole in 2024 for a 100-day mission. The aim of the mission is to learn more about water on the Moon and to understand what other resources may be available in this region of the Moon. VIPER will also provide more information on the conditions astronauts can expect during NASA’s Artemis missions. VIPER is designed to handle tougher terrain including moving in and out of craters and loss of communication for extended periods. The rover is equipped with dual stereo navigation cameras, low and high-gain antennas to connect with the Deep Space Network (DSN) antennas on Earth, as well as a set of headlights which are the first to be installed on a planetary rover. 


VIPER will travel to the moon onboard Astrobotic’s Griffin Lunar Lander which will launch on SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket. If everything proceeds as intended, the rover should reach its planned destination, Mons Mouton, by the end of the year.


 

In Other News:


Nokia's planned 4G Lunar Network to Launch

Nokia is developing a 4G/LTE communications system on the Moon, sending the first piece of network infrastructure later this year should all go to plan. The hardware is expected to catch a ride on Intuitive Machine’s IM-2 mission which is expected to land on the lunar south pole. Nokia’s payload is described as a “network in a box” and is designed to connect Intuitive Machines’ landers and rovers on the lunar surface. As reported by Space, Nokia’s Thierry Klein stated “ like shelter, food, and life support, communications are a crucial component of any future lunar or Mars mission”. Nokia has been adapting its existing telecommunications hardware for the lunar environment since it was awarded $14.1 million USD from NASA to support the Artemis program. Should all go according to plan Nokia’s network would provide more bandwidth than existing systems and increase the speed and reliability of communications from astronaut to astronaut as well as between automated systems. 


China releases most detailed map of Lunar surface

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Header Image: NASA VIPER with its integrated mast in a clean room at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Image from: NASA/Josh Valcarce

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