NASA has announced that its new lunar rover named VIPER has completed an "obstacle course" simulating the lunar environment - a key step in the development of the rover slated to explore the lunar south pole.
VIPER, or the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, has completed an obstacle course simulating the lunar terrain it will encounter when it lands on Mons Mouton, a mountain located near the lunar south pole. More specifically, the new rover will touchdown close to the western rim of the Nobile crater, where it will then begin its primary objective of documenting the southern lunar environment. Data from VIPER will then be used to dictate viable landing locations for future Artemis missions.
NASA has taken to its Ames Research Lab YouTube channel to showcase that VIPER has overcome some of the most common challenges it will encounter when it begins to scour the lunar surface. The small rover is seen successfully overcoming simulated fine lunar soil, quicksand-like soil, rocks, slopes, and much more. All of which are critical points of maneuverability. VIPER is expected to launch on the back of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket sometime in November 2024.
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