VIPER Rover Will Get Driving Headlights

Using a special lab at NASA’s Ames Research Center designed to mimic lunar terrain as it would appear in different areas at the Moon’s poles, the VIPER team tests out lighting systems for the rover with a very low-angle illumination simulating the Sun. (Credits: NASA/Dominic Hart)

MOFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — As it journeys into some of the darkest and coldest spots in the solar system, NASA’s new water-hunting Moon rover, VIPER, will need some very robust headlights to light the way.

In the extremes of light and dark found on the Moon, shadowed and lit areas are in such high contrast that any contours in the landscape are effectively invisible in the darkness. To navigate this world, VIPER’s rover drivers will rely on a system of rover-mounted lights and cameras to steer clear of boulders, descend steep declines into craters and avoid other potentially mission-fatal dangers.

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