Land rover Discovery, a lander to be sent to the moon to study an ancient lakebed, has been found by NASA.
The $500-million (U.S.) project will see the lander land on an ice cap about 100 metres (330 feet) deep in the icecap known as the Ice Lake in the Moon’s Yellowknife Bay.
NASA officials said the landers aim to determine how the Moon formed, how it formed as a rocky planet, how water flowed down from the Moon and whether the Moon had a sea.
The lander is about 30 metres (98 feet) wide and is the first to have a fully functioning onboard camera.
Landers were launched into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, in 2007.
The space agency had been searching for lander candidates for years.
“There were a lot of people who wanted to go to the Moon.
And they all were successful,” said John Grunsfeld, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations.
“It’s kind of the same reason people wanted to land on Mars.
So we’ve got to go after the moon.”
Discovery mission manager Michael Oreskes said the mission will send back images and other data about the surface of the moon.
It will also give scientists the ability to study water and ice flows.
“You’re going to see a lot more water on the Moon, not just the surface,” Oreske said.
“We can go out to the edge of the lunar surface and see the geology of the Moon.”
NASA’s John Grinspoon, who heads the agency’s mission team, said the agency hopes to land landers on other planets in the solar system.
“One of the things that we have to think about is how to do things on other worlds and in our solar system that we don’t currently have the technology to do,” Grinspoons said in a news conference.
“Landing on a planet that is really far away from us is challenging.”
Oresks said Discovery is the most advanced lander mission ever sent to Mars.
It is designed to fly to the Red Planet in 2020.
The next rover mission, Discovery 2, is scheduled to land in 2021.
The Lander II lander, called LANDER, will be launched in 2020 to study the ice and bedrock at a lakebed on the lunar far side of the crater, NASA officials have said.
Oreskins said the LANDERS mission is intended to look at the moon’s history and the potential for further exploration of the Red Earth.
“This mission will enable us to explore the history of the solar System, and the moon, beyond the borders of the Solar System, beyond our own,” Oreksys said.
Discovery is part of NASA’s mission to Mars, which is expected to be completed in 2024.
“NASA is thrilled to be working with the world’s leading lander teams on a mission to the surface and back,” said Michael Griffin, NASA’s associate administrator, in a statement.
The program is a collaboration between the U.S. and Russia.
NASA’s Curiosity rover was launched to the planet’s surface in August 2012, carrying the $2.5-billion Mars Science Laboratory rover.
It was the first rover mission to visit a planet other than Earth.
The rover landed on Mars in August 2015, and NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew past Pluto in July of this year.
NASA is using the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which landed on the planet in 1999, to explore ancient oceans.
NASA said it will send the first of several missions to the dwarf planet in 2020, after landing on a landmass known as Kuiper Belt Object (KBO).
The agency is hoping to learn more about the composition of the KBO.
NASA launched the first robotic spacecraft to explore asteroids in the 1970s.
The agency also plans to launch its own space telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, later this year to look for other asteroids and planets beyond our solar System.
A similar mission, Opportunity, was sent to an asteroid in 2005, and scientists have successfully visited the planet six times.
“The next steps for NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission will be to launch the first mission in 2020,” NASA said in its news release.
“Our hope is that by the end of 2020, we will be able to send the spacecraft to Mars and explore the Red Dwarf, a potential landing site for another mission to Earth.”