LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – Advanced Cooling Technologies (ACT) is helping NASA land back on the moon with a rover named Viper that is set to discover frozen water under the surface.
“It’s whole purpose is to land on the southern pole of the moon and go into these permanently shadowed regions,” Ryan Spangler, the engineer manager for space systems product development. “They’ve identified locations they believe frozen water could exist. Viper is going to be the first surveying piece of equipment to really go into those craters.”
Viper is equipped with a meter-long drill to help go under the surface of the moon to search for water.
The lunar cycle lasts 28 days with 14 days of sunlight and 14 days of darkness. Viper will do its work during the two weeks of sun because it runs on solar panels.
However, when it turns to night, the temperature drops drastically.
“The real challenge is to be able to survive that 14 days of night. It’ll get to below 100 Kelvin,” Jimmy Hughes, the lead engineer for ACT said.
That’s colder than -279 degrees Fahrenheit. That has led to ACT designing a built-in heat-regulating system to make sure the rover doesn’t get too cold.
“The rover is designed to have this warm box in the middle to keep everything warm during those 14 days of night so that nothing breaks and when the sun comes back up it can turn on and keep going,” Hughes said.
With space travel, second chances aren’t an option. ACT knows no mistakes can be made.
“The real challenge of space flight is you get one shot so there’s a lot of engineering and design effort, testing and analysis to make sure that the one chance you got everything is gonna work,” Hughes said.
Viper is expected to launch in October 2024. At a minimum, it’ll be at work for three months, but it is designed to last longer than that.