It is a cutting-edge six-wheeled, solar-powered robot that will explore the moon’s interior in an effort to map and explore areas of potential future human habitation. The VIPER is a highly maneuverable, small robotic explorer that will make historical firsts when it comes to exploring and collecting data about the lunar environment.
It is equipped with a robotic arm, navigation cameras, radar, and imaging spectrometers, which will help scientists better understand lunar geography. It is also equipped with a wide variety of sensors, including a Gravimeter, which will measure the moon’s gravitational fields, and a Neutron Spectrometer, which will help scientists learn more about the distribution of volatiles on the lunar surface. On its initial mission, VIPER will explore a place on the lunar surface known as the Shackleton crater, which is believed to be a permanently shadowed area, and the data it collects will be transmitted back to Earth. The data will, in turn, help inform study and design of future human landers and habitats on the moon.