What is LUVMI?
LUVMI is a small lightweight rover, being designed to explore polar regions of the Moon. It will drive into a Permanently Shadowed Region (PSR), believed to hold vast stores of water. Instruments carried by the rover will look specifically for this water which may be potentially game-changing for future manned missions to the Moon.
Why revisit the Moon?
The Moon is once again becoming an exciting focal point in space exploration with the announcement of several Lunar missions in the coming years. China, Russia, The USA and Europe are all planning for Moon landing missions within the next decade.
Formed during the creation of our solar system, the Moon's ancient surfaces could hold clues about the origins of our own planet and the evolution of the solar system. A more profound understanding of the Moon and its volatiles may also potentially provide resources that would support the development of a Moon base, aiding deeper space exploration.
How is LUVMI different?
Rover vehicles have been instrumental in gathering and analysing key samples from both the Moon and Mars, however the cost of building and transporting these machines means that rover missions are few and far between.
LUVMI is a lightweight, low cost alternative weighing no more than 40kg. It will be able to analyse rock samples faster than a conventional rover and with less contamination.
Traditional rovers drill into rocks for samples before transferring them to the surface for analysis. LUVMI will insert a miniaturised analysis package under the surface itself, cutting the analysis time in half and reducing the risk of contamination.