Credit: NASA


NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) is headed for the near western edge of Nobile crater. That site was selected in a review of 15 locales, then down to four spots, with the Nobile site a final pick.

VIPER is a resource-mapping mission and while on the Moon, VIPER will get a close-up view of the location and concentration of ice and other resources.

Nobile crater is labeled and a box is drawn around the area VIPER will explore. Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio/Ernie Wright

The intent is that the automated rover will assist in pushing forward lunar science and human exploration as part of Artemis missions.

The Earth rises above the terrain of the Nobile region. From this vantage point, the Earth appears upside-down.
Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio/Ernie Wright

Scientists and mission operators will leverage near real-time Earth-to-Moon communications and work together to drive the rover along an unexplored region of the Moon’s South Pole.

A close-up view of the area that will be explored by VIPER, showing a nominal traverse route and highlighting permanently shadowed regions that may contain water ice and other volatiles.
Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio/Ernie Wright


The rover will be delivered to the Moon’s surface in late 2023 under the Artemis program and part of the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative.

Astrobotic of Pittsburgh is the commercial carrier that will deliver VIPER to the Moon.



During its 100-Earth-day mission, the approximately 1,000-pound rover will roam several miles and use its four science instruments to sample various soil environments.


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