Nasa has selected engineering technology provider First Mode and Arizona State University (ASU) to develop a new robotic lunar rover.

Funded by Nasa’s Planetary Mission Concept Study programme, the Intrepid lunar mission concept is expected to be able to travel long distances and perform long-duration investigations across the lunar surface.

Weighing approximately 425kg, the next-generation rover will be designed to travel up to 1,800km across the Moon’s surface for a period of four Earth years.

ASU professor Mark Robinson will manage a consortium comprising scientists from several Nasa centres and universities. First Mode will be responsible for the system’s design and configuration.

Robinson said: “The ASU team has been working on the Intrepid mission concept for nearly a decade and it is very gratifying to have the chance to work with Nasa to advance the idea to the next stage.

“This award provides the means to iron out details of the rover design and science strategy, which ultimately could lead to Intrepid being included in a future mission competition.”

The rover will be integrated with a suite of 11 scientific instruments and powered by a plutonium-powered multi-mission radioisotope thermoelectric generator (MMRTG).

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It will examine the geology of the lunar surface, measure surface radiation, identify hydrogen content and chemical composition, as well as map the solar wind.

The Intrepid rover will take detailed measurements at more than 100 potential sites on the Moon’s surface.

This will provide insights to help Nasa prepare for human exploration and ensure the safety of future human explorers.

First Mode president and chief engineer Chris Voorhees said: “We are excited to deliver First Mode’s expertise in rover systems, surface mobility, and MMRTG integration to this audacious mission concept and look forward to partnering with Professor Robinson and the ASU team.”