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May 29, 2024

NASA Opens Registration to Send Your Name to the Moon

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Jan 6, 2024

NASA has opened registration for people around the world to submit their names to be flown aboard the agency’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) to the Moon’s South Pole in late 2024. The “Fly Your Name to the Moon” campaign allows participants to have their name etched on a microchip and carried by the mobile robot as it searches the lunar surface for water and other resources.

Overview of the VIPER Mission

VIPER is part of NASA’s Artemis program to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024 and establish sustainable exploration by the end of the decade. As the first resource mapping mission on another world, VIPER will pave the way for the discovery and utilization of resources like water ice that can support long-term human exploration on the Moon. Table 1 gives an overview of key details about the VIPER mission.

Mission Details Description
Launch Late 2024 via a commercial lander
Landing Site Lunar South Pole
Length of Mission 100 days of mapping operations
Mobility System Advanced wheeled rover
Speeds up to 0.5 mph
Instruments Neutron spectrometer
Near infrared spectrometer
Cameras

The golf cart-sized rover will explore lunar craters using its suite of instruments to create the first water resource maps of the Moon’s South Pole. Its weaving traverse will help locate landing sites and identify resource mining opportunities to benefit future human space exploration.

Public Engagement Opportunity

NASA has a tradition of flying mementos and artifacts significant to humanity aboard missions to other worlds. Continuing this custom, the agency is now collecting names to be stored on a microchip inside VIPER throughout its mission. “Fly Your Name to the Moon” allows people from around the world to engage and participate in NASA’s return to the lunar surface after over 50 years.

Names can be submitted online until September 30, 2023 at this link. Participants will also receive a souvenir boarding pass for their symbolic trip to the Moon. By November 2023, all names received will be etched onto a fingernail-sized silicon chip using an electron beam writer at JPL. In late 2024, the chip will be installed on VIPER before launch to the Moon.

The Significance of Exploring the Lunar South Pole

VIPER is targeting the Moon’s South Pole because it contains some of the coldest regions in the solar system with temperatures dipping below -280°F. These extreme environments are perfect for preserving volatile chemical compounds like water ice. Using its instruments, VIPER will analyze the lunar soil and map any detected water ice deposits down to a depth of 1 meter. These first water resource maps at the poles will help identify potential sources of this precious resource to sustain long duration astronaut missions. They will also pinpoint optimal sites for future robotic and human lunar landing missions.

“The Moon holds vast scientific, economic and operational opportunities that will not only benefit NASA, but all of humanity‚” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. He added, “VIPER will scout the location of water ice and other resources on the Moon that one day soon could be harvested to sustain human exploration on the Moon and beyond.”

What’s Next for VIPER

VIPER has passed the halfway mark in its development and assembly at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California. In early January, engineers integrated the flight model chassis, wheels and suspension system – giving the rover its “legs” for the first time.

Over the next year, the rest of VIPER’s scientific instruments and avionics will be installed and tested. In late 2023, the completed rover will be shipped to Florida for integration with the commercial lunar lander for launch. VIPER’s discoveries at the South Pole will pave the way for future astronaut missions under Artemis. Its data will help determine optimal sites to land crewed rovers, set up research stations and test technologies needed for sustained lunar exploration.

VIPER is going to the never-before-explored lunar south pole region to answer fundamental questions. Where is the water ice? How much is there? How is it distributed in the subsurface? The answers will guide our Moon exploration plans,” said Daniel Andrews, VIPER project manager at NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley.

Conclusion

Fly Your Name to the Moon allows people from around the world to join VIPER’s mission to the lunar South Pole. As the first resource mapping expedition of the Moon, it marks a major milestone in NASA’s goal to establish a sustained human presence on the lunar surface. Submit your name online by September 30, 2023 to fly aboard VIPER on this historic voyage of discovery.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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