Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) today announced the development of a new exploration rover which will be used to detect water on the Moon’s surface as part of a collaborative project between the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) called the Lunar Pole Exploration program (LUPEX).
The project aims to collect data regarding the quantity and quality of water resources on the moon, to determine whether such water can be used for future sustained space exploration. MHI will utilize the results from in-house research to develop off-road vehicle traveling technology that will be used to survey polar areas of the moon where water may be present.
Once completed, the rover will be loaded onto a lunar lander developed by ISRO and launched by Japan's H3 launch vehicle in the mid-2020s.
The traveling technology and lunar data collected by the rover are expected to be used to support the manned pressurized rover development. Building on technological heritage in spacecraft integration, space environmental resistance and human space stay, MHI is supporting Toyota Motor Corporation and JAXA assessment on manned pressurized rover enabling astronauts to drive on the moon with no need to wear heavy space suits.
ISRO’s Successful Chandrayaan-3 Mission
Chandrayaan-3 is India's third lunar mission, launched on July 14, 2023, featuring the Vikram lander and Pragyan rover. It successfully landed in the lunar south pole region on August 23, 2023. Its main goal is to demonstrate landing and rover capabilities, with a mission duration of about 14 Earth days. The rover has an APXS and LIBS, while the lander carries various scientific instruments including RAMBHA, ChaSTE, and ILSA.