The moonranger probe, developed by Carnegie Mellon University and astrobot, a space start-up, has just passed a critical design review. The probe, scheduled for launch in 2022, aims to investigate whether there is enough buried ice to be useful to future lunar explorers. < / P > < p > in July, astrobot won a US $5.6 million contract from NASA to work with Carnegie Mellon University to promote NASA’s lunar surface and instrument technology payload (lsitp) program. < p > < p > the moonranger weighs about 28 pounds and aims to obtain a high fidelity 3D map of the moon’s surface, especially its craters and polar regions. Astrobot said moonranger would be a test platform for “ushering in a new era of space operability” due to its “moderate” mass and size. In particular, the autonomous capability of the probe will pave the way for a new type of lunar exploration in the future, marking a new way to return to the moon. < p > < p > moonranger is expected to become the first water ice exploration vehicle to land on the moon if it can advance as scheduled. But NASA is also developing its own water ice rover, viper, with the goal of landing on the moon in December 2022. Viper’s goal is to help find water ice near the moon’s surface to help prepare for a planned human landing on the moon in 2024. < / P > < p > like viper, moonranger’s destination is the moon’s south pole, which will be an advanced reconnaissance for NASA missions. Ideally, moonranger will be delivered by Masten space systems’ XL-1 lunar lander under the agency’s commercial lunar payload service (CLPs) program, which will confirm the presence of water ice, and then Viper will arrive later, with the ability to drill deeper for more rigorous field analysis. < / P > < p > moonranger will be much smaller than viper, about the size of a suitcase, but it will have travel speeds previously unheard of by alien exploration robots. CMU robots will be able to cover up to 1000 meters (almost two-thirds of a mile) in a single day. Global Tech