Podcast: A Canadian Rover on the Moon

Image (Credit): Picture of the Canadian rover being built and finalized for a trip to the Moon. (Canadensys Aerospace)

I am recommending another episode from The Planetary Society’s podcast Planetary Radio. In the episode, The Canadian Lunar Rover with Peter Visscher, we get to learn more about Canada’s plans to place a rover on the Moon.

The interview is with Peter Visscher, Director of Canadensys West, which is building the rover after receiving a contract from Canadian Space Agency’s Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program. Here is a little more about the rover and the partners on the mission:

The 30-kg lunar rover will be sent to the Moon’s south pole region as early as 2026. The rover will be carrying multiple science payloads from Canada and the US. Canadensys Aerospace is leading a broad team of partners, including NASA Ames Research Center, NGC Aerospace, Maya Heat Transfer Technologies, Nokia, Bubble Technology Industries, Waves in Space, Simon Fraser University, Western University, the University of Winnipeg, l’Université de Sherbrooke, Leap Biosystems, Surrey Satellite Technology, and RF Collins. The team’s scientific investigators are among the leading lunar researchers in Canada and the US and are affiliated with the core team organizations as well as Arizona State University, Planetary Science Institute, and University of Alberta.

The rover will explore the Moon’s South Pole as it searches for water ice. Such ice has already been detected from orbit, but this mission will test the soil in the area where the water was detected. Water on the lunar surface will be of great benefit to future missions on the Moon and elsewhere – it represents not only water itself, but oxygen for breathing and hydrogen for fuel.

The objectives of the mission were recently laid out by the Canadian government:

  • travel on the surface of the Moon to see how the various systems perform;
  • showcase the possible applications, feasibility and performance of a new technology;
  • make scientific measurements that will help determine the amount of hydrogen present in the Moon soil, which is one of the best indicators of water ice while defining at which temperatures it is detected;
  • analyze the lunar soil to better understand the geology of the site; and
  • assess lunar surface radiation to find out how much radiation future astronauts will be exposed to.

The interview in the podcast gives you more background on the project as well as potential plans to provide the rover with its own name.

NASA is working on another rover that it plans to send to the Moon’s surface by 2024 – Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER). I can cover that mission and other lunar missions looking for water in a later post.