back to article NASA hopes VIPER rover will search for water in Moon's Nobile crater in 2023

NASA has chosen where to send a golf-cart-sized rover to the Moon in 2023 to hunt for water: the western edge of the Nobile impact crater on the south pole. The US space agency hopes to one day extract sufficient amounts of water from icy deposits on the lunar surface to sustain human habitation on Earth’s satellite. Before …

  1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

    Why solar powered?

    Seems RTG would be a more sensible choice. Power where there's no sunlight. Guaranteed heat where it's really cold, no batteries to be killed by the cold. Move around only to fullfil the mission, no need to mooch off for a recharge.

    I can only imagine the design meetings that led to this decision...

    It'll operate in permanently shadowed regions of a crater at the Lunar south pole.

    I know! Let's make is solar powered!

    It's one of the coldest places in the Solar System.

    Another winning case for solar power! Batteries love the cold, and their electicity can run heaters!

    We need to efficiently map an area of the surface and subsurface.

    Let's make it have to constantly trundle to somewhere there's a tiny bit of sunlight to charge the batteries! It'll never get too far away and risk running out of power before it can get back to it's charging point.

    1. Dave Pickles

      Re: Why solar powered?

      But what if your RTG-powered probe crashes? "Yes there's lots of water at the south pole; shame it's all now radioactive"

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Why solar powered?

        I shouldn’t worry too much about it being radioactive, with the kicking that the moon gets from the solar wind, the water will not be good for humans anyway.

      2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        Re: Why solar powered?

        Space is filled with radiation anyway.

      3. Sceptic Tank Silver badge

        Re: Why solar powered?

        A quick google tells us that water does not become radioactive.

    2. adam 40 Silver badge


      you need something to keep you warm when your potato harvest goes titsup....

    3. Zebo-the-Fat

      Re: Why solar powered?

      I suspect that the plutonium for the RTG's is in short supply

  2. Spherical Cow Silver badge


    24km in 100 days is a lot for a rover, especially as it will spend some time stationary for drilling etc.

    To put that in perspective, the rover will need to move the length of a brontosaurus every couple of hours!

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