According to Central Florida News 13, NASA has unveiled a new lunar rover, the Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatile Extraction, or RESOLVE, designed to prospect for water and other volatiles on the lunar surface,
RESOLVE is a joint project of NASA and the Canadian Space Agency
Central Florida News 13 says RESOLVE was built for NASA by the Canadian Space Agency. According to CTV News, the RESOLVE project has been in the works since 2004, involving NASA, a company called Neptec that builds advance optical sensor systems, and Northern Centre for Advanced Technology (NORCAT). The project involves the building and testing of a number of prototype rovers.
RESOLVE would prospect for water and other materials on the moon
The Central Florida NEWS 13 story says a RESOLVE rover would roll across the lunar surface taking samples from various locations with a drill. The material extracted by the drill would be processed, according to a NASA video, would be processed to separate water, hydrogen, and other materials thought to be useful for future lunar explorers and colonists.
Tests to be conducted outside of Hilo, Hawaii
NASA intends to test the RESOLVE lunar rover, as well as other concept vehicles, in an area near Hilo, Hawaii, the location of a lunar research park, according to NEWS 13. Recently NASA and the state of Hawaii signed an agreement, according to Big Island Video News, to develop the area, the terrain of which is similar to that of the moon and Mars, to test exploration technologies, such as the RESOLVE rover.
Tests could help future explorers and colonists
Recent discoveries of water by probes such as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and India's Chandrayaan suggest that future lunar explorers and settlers could mine the water for use instead of having to transport it all the way from Earth. The water could be used by the lunar explorers as well as for rocket fuel, separated into oxygen and hydrogen. In effect, the moon could be used as a refueling stop for spacecraft headed into deep space, thus reducing the amount of fuel that needs to be lofted out of the Earth's gravity field.
Rover mission to the moon remains unfunded
An actual mission to the moon to test the drilling and processing technology remains unfunded. According to WFTV News, such a mission would cost $300 million to mount and would take several years.
Mark R. Whittington is the author of Children of Apollo and The Last Moonwalker. He has written on space subjects for a variety of periodicals, including The Houston Chronicle, The Washington Post, USA Today, the L.A. Times, and The Weekly Standard.
- Canadian Space Agency
- Central Florida News 13