Washington: NASA is developing a Moon rover to find how water can be produced on the lunar surface by analysing liquid droplets trapped in deep freezes at its poles.
Scheduled to fly in November 2017 the mission, called Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatile Extraction (RESOLVE), will have a week`s time to accomplish its goals.
Mission managers are planning to use solar energy to power the rover`s systems and science instruments for the USD 250 million project which includes a rocket ride to the Moon.
However, sunlight in the areas where water and other volatiles may be trapped only occurs for a few days at a time, the `Discovery News` reported.
As the rover lands on the Moon, it would have about 2.5 days of sunlight to get started searching for hydrogen, then hibernate for two days of shadow.
For the next five days of sunlight, the rover would drill about a meter deep into the lunar surface to extract a sample for mineral analysis.
The sample would be heated with a hope to produce liquid water. The rover would then finally demonstrate how oxygen can be chemically pulled out from the lunar soil and mixed with hydrogen to produce water.
"The primary mission is lunar ice prospecting, but since we`re there and since we don`t know if we`ll find water, we wanted to also demonstrate that we can extract oxygen from the lunar soil," Larson said.
"That is the most challenging time-line of any surface mobility mission NASA has ever attempted before - and we`re trying to do it on the cheap," he added.
The project builds upon the ongoing Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mapping mission and the 2009 impacts of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) spacecraft and rocket motor into a permanently shadowed crater called Cabeus, located near the Moon`s south pole.
Material blasted above the crater`s rim during the impacts and other analysis showed it contains about 5 per cent frozen water, the report said.
The origin of the water on the Moon, however, remains a mystery.