NASA Begins Production of Moon RobotBy José Escobedo | Fri, 06/12/2020 - 18:34
NASA will begin production of a robot spacecraft called Viper, manufactured by the Astrobotic of Pittsburgh company, which aims to go on a lunar mission in 2023. Through a statement, NASA reported it has provided the company US$199.5 million. The robot seeks to find water on the moon to continue with lunar missions planned to start in 2024.
NASA aims to send two female and two male astronauts to the moon and gather scientific data and research as part of its Artemis space program. “The VIPER rover and the commercial partnership that will deliver it to the moon are a prime example of how the scientific community and US industry are making NASA’s lunar exploration vision a reality,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Commercial partners are changing the landscape of space exploration and VIPER is going to be a big boost to our efforts to send the first woman and next man to the lunar surface in 2024 through the Artemis program.”
Viper will carry out a mission of approximately 100 Earth days and will travel several kilometers on the lunar surface, taking ground samples for further studies. The robot will collect data on the location and concentration of ice on the Moon, with the purpose of preparing the first maps of water resources.
In other space related news, Mexican researchers from UNAM's Astronomy (IA) and Physics (IF) departments have collaborated with an international group of scientists doing research on detecting gamma rays from the Crab Nebula using a prototype of the Schwarzschild-Couder Telescope (pSCT). "The National Autonomous University participated with the design, development and installation of the Maintenance Platform-Tower in pSCT," said Jaime Ruiz, IA mechanical designer and current head of the Precision Mechanic Workshop, located in Ciudad Universitaria, part of the campus of the national university.
Researchers are part of the Cherenkov Telescope Network (CTA), a global initiative to build the largest and most sensitive high-energy gamma-ray observatory. More than 1,500 scientists and engineers from 31 countries participate in the CTA, which consists of about 120 telescopes located in Paranal, Chile and La Palma, Spain.