We now know where NASA’s first-ever robotic moon rover will touch down.
The ice-hunting Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) will land just west of Nobile Crater, which sits near the moon’s south pole, NASA officials announced Tuesday (Sept. 20). In late 2023, VIPER will fly to the moon aboard Griffin, a lander built by Pittsburgh-based company Astrobotic that will launch atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.
“Selecting a landing site for VIPER is an exciting and important decision for all of us,” Daniel Andrews, VIPER project manager at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, said in a statement.
“Years of study have gone into evaluating the polar region VIPER will explore,” Andrews said. “VIPER is going into uncharted territory — informed by science — to test hypotheses and reveal critical information for future human space exploration.”