NASA's first lunar mobile robot, the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, will map the location and concentration of water ice and other frozen volatiles in an area west of Nobile crater, near the lunar South Pole. Understanding the distribution of water and other resources on the Moon is vital for sustaining human exploration there. Scheduled to be delivered in late 2023 as part of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative, the rover will explore an area of about 36 square miles during its 100-day mission.
This video shows where VIPER is going and explains the four main criteria for choosing the landing site: Earth visibility for two-way communications between the Moon and Earth, sunlight for power and thermal regulation, the potential presence of water and other resources, and terrain that is well-suited for VIPER to navigate.
Beginning with a view of the full Moon, the camera flies to the lunar South Pole, then zooms in on the VIPER site next to Nobile crater. Data indicating surface frost at the South Pole is shown. Nobile crater is labeled and a box is drawn around the area VIPER will explore.