NASA Testing Rover to Prospect for Water on the Moon

This prototype lunar rover is carrying a payload called RESOLVE, which (in one of the least-strained NASA acronyms I've ever heard) stands for Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatiles Extraction. RESOLVE is "the next step in lunar exploration." designed to prospect for sources of water that might make a permanent lunar outpost possible.

RESOLVE is a joint effort between Kennedy Space Center and the Canadian Space Agency, which does in fact exist. The idea is that the robot can be let loose on the lunar surface (perhaps travelling there via MORPHEUS), where it'll autonomously drill into the top layer of moon stuff (that astrogeologists like myself call regolith when we want to sound smart) in search of water and other handy resources. Over time, the rover will be able to create a resource distribution map, showing where the very best spots are to mine for water. And water, of course, is one of the most valuable resources of all, because not only is it a refreshing thirst-quencher, but you can also knock it apart into some hydrogens and an oxygen and make yourself rocket fuel out of it.

The nice thing about the RESOLVE system is that in principle, it's good for just about any planetary body that you need some prospectin' done on. With minor modifications to the rover itself, the RESOLVE payload can be tailored for anywhere from Mars to an asteroid, if asteroid prospecting is your thing

As we speak, the RESOLVE rover prototype is in Hawaii, conducting tests on Mauna Kea (a convenient analog to the lunar landscape a bit closer to home) in a nine-day simulated mission and what has to be one of the coolest vacations that any space geek could ever dream of.




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