NASA has awarded a contract to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and astrobot to complete the development and construction of an autonomous lunar rover as a technology demonstrator and water probe. The moonranger, which is scheduled to be launched as early as next year, will be sent to one of the moon’s polar regions in search of water ice and caves. < / P > < p > with NASA stepping up the implementation of the & quot; Artemis & quot; project to establish a permanent human presence on the moon, a major part of this work will be a thorough exploration of the lunar surface and exploration of important resources, including water ice. Because it’s not feasible for astronauts to perform such a mission, NASA is turning its attention to deploying a series of small, simple robots that can run on the moon for a week to avoid damaging its electronics in the dark and cold of the moon’s night. < / P > < p > the new rover will be about the size of a suitcase and weigh about 24 pounds (about 11 kg), but it will be very fast because it will have a high degree of autonomy due to its detailed 3D mapping of the lunar terrain. Because moonranger is too small to send radio signals directly to earth, it will collect data independently and upload it to the astrobot lander, which will send the rover to the ground. The lander will then forward the data to mission control. < / P > < p > “NASA’s latest lunar mission to develop moonranger is another example of how astrobot can become a world leader in lunar logistics,” said John Thornton, chief executive officer of astrobot. “Our lander and Rover capabilities are designed to deliver our customers to the moon and enable them to conduct meaningful, low-cost scientific, exploratory and commercial activities.” Global Tech