The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is working on its new lunar exploration program Artemis. With the Artemis program, the US space agency is planning to land the first woman on the Moon by 2024. For this, it has sought ideas and concepts from the auto and tech industry to develop a lunar terrain vehicle (LTV). Key features of the LTV should be autonomous driving in hazardous terrain and high contrast lighting conditions. It should be human-rated so that astronauts can drive them on the lunar surface wearing protective pressurized suits. Extreme environment tires, energy storage, and recharging are some other requirements for the vehicle.
The intention behind making these vehicles is to expand the area that can be explored by astronauts after landing on the lunar surface. The LTV will help them cover a large range of terrain from the landing site to gather data and conduct their experiments. Robotic vehicles will assist cosmonauts in giving access to terrains where humans cannot necessarily reach. The Artemis Moon Program of NASA is expected to land astronauts somewhere on the lunar South Pole. Inputs can be provided even by those industries that are not necessarily in the space business. NASA has mentioned in its explanation of the request for information about who all can share inputs.
Meanwhile, NASA is also working on a project that will scout out water ice on the Moon’s south pole. The project is crucial as water is essential if humans want to have a permanent presence on the lunar surface. For this, NASA is sending the golf cart-sized Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover or VIPER. VIPER is expected to land on the Moon in December 2022. VIPER will rove on the permanently shadowed polar regions and will directly observe and quantify the presence of water. It will travel several kilometers on the surface of the Moon for over 3 months. This will be the space agency’s first long-term surface mission since 1972. NASA confirmed the presence of water on the lunar surface way back in 2009 after it crashed a rocket into a cater in the region. Since then, the US space agency has been planning to study and eventually extract and use it. Scientists believe that there could be millions of tons of water ice.