Meet the lunar rover that will venture to the moon’s south pole
About the size of a golf cart, VIPER, or Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, will search for ice, collect and analyze samples, and map how much ice may exist beneath the moon’s surface.
NASA's VIPER (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover) is a lunar rover which, among other objectives, will search the moon's South Pole for water. (James Blair/NASA /Johnson Space Center)
(CNN) — At the heart of human nature is a desire to explore. Nowhere is that more evident than our quest to journey beyond Earth.
This week, the AX-2 mission carried four travelers to the International Space Station, including former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and stem cell researcher Rayyanah Barnawi, the first woman from Saudi Arabia to travel to space.
Virgin Galactic also returned its supersonic plane to the edge of space for the first time since 2021, with two pilots and a crew of four Virgin Galactic employees aboard the test flight.
And preparations are underway as humans prepare to return to the lunar surface in 2025 — and they’re going to get a little help from some robotic explorers.
Engineers test a prototype version of VIPER at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. (Arno Rogg/NASA)
Engineers are busy constructing a rover set to land at the lunar south pole in 2024.
About the size of a golf cart, VIPER, or Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, will search for ice, collect and analyze samples, and map how much ice may exist beneath the moon’s surface. A hardy, clever design will allow the robot to handle the extreme conditions of a place humans have yet to explore.
The rover’s findings could help sustain a human presence on the moon by allowing astronauts to collect drinking water and uncover other resources. And it’s not the only lunar rover in the works.
Meanwhile, a NASA orbiter captured images of what appears to be the impact site of the Ispace Hakuto-R Mission 1 lunar lander after it failed to touch down safely in April on the moon’s surface.
The telescope captured an image of what scientists believe shows a decaying sunspot. (NSF/AURA/NSO)
A solar telescope has captured otherworldly glimpses of the sun’s surface in a stunning set of new images.
The National Science Foundation’s Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, on the island of Maui in Hawaii, took incredibly detailed photos of sunspots over the past year.
The images showcase solar phenomena such as “light bridges” that span across sunspots as well as the fine, glowing structures within and surrounding these cool, dark regions.
Meanwhile, new research has suggested that Saturn’s iconic rings could disappear within the next few hundred million years — and the astronomically young rings might have formed while dinosaurs roamed the Earth.
Once upon a planet
Around 250 million years ago, mammalian ancestors reigned supreme before the dinosaurs — and they struggled to survive during “the Great Dying.”
Massive volcanic eruptions created catastrophic climate change that led to the worst mass extinction on Earth. Over the course of 1 million years, 90% of life disappeared.
A new fossil discovery has revealed one of the unusual creatures that lived during this upheaval.
The saber-toothed Inostrancevia was a tiger-size animal that had the skin of a rhino or elephant and looked reptilian. And the prehistoric predator made an unbelievable trek to survive rapidly changing environments.
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