The Moon's north pole. Photo: NASA/JPL

NASA last week announced that the company Astrobotic will deliver the agency's VIPER rover to the lunar surface, bringing the space agency another step closer to understanding exactly how much water is on the Moon.

Why it matters: Companies and space agencies hope to one day mine the Moon for water that can be turned into rocket fuel that could be used to get spacecraft to other, distant targets like Mars. But how much water is actually there is unknown.

  • VIPER will be the first step toward understanding the Moon's polar water and if it can be harvested.

Details: The VIPER rover is expected to launch to the south pole of the Moon in 2023 for a 100-day mission.

  • The agency will also test out the rover's instruments with landers bound for the Moon in 2021 and 2022.
  • The data the rover collects will help NASA put together a map of water on the Moon and help the agency learn more about what exactly can be done with it in the future.
  • "We’re doing something that’s never been done before — testing the instruments on the Moon as the rover is being developed," NASA’s Thomas Zurbuchen said in a statement. "VIPER and the many payloads we will send to the lunar surface in the next few years are going to help us realize the Moon’s vast scientific potential.”
  • Astrobotic's contract is worth $199.5 million.

What's next: The rover is expected to be a precursor mission to NASA's Artemis program, designed to bring astronauts to the surface of the Moon in 2024.

Go deeper: One step closer to mining the moon

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Jan 7, 2020 - Science

The make-or-break moment for U.S. spaceflight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

This year Boeing and SpaceX will push to launch astronauts to orbit for NASA after years of delays, in an attempt to end U.S. reliance on Russian rockets for rides to the International Space Station.

Why it matters: Up and coming space powers like India and China are making plays at sending astronauts into space while launching increasingly ambitious missions to the Moon as NASA has been riding on its Cold War-era achievements in human spaceflight.

Updated 34 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 12,772,755 — Total deaths: 566,036 — Total recoveries — 7,030,749Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 3,269,531 — Total deaths: 134,898 — Total recoveries: 995,576 — Total tested: 39,553,395Map.
  3. Politics: Trump wears face mask in public for first time.
  4. States: Florida smashes single-day record for new coronavirus cases with over 15,000.
  5. Public health: Trump's coronavirus testing czar says lockdowns in hotspots "should be on the table" — We're losing the war on the coronavirus.
  6. Education: Betsy DeVos says schools that don't reopen shouldn't get federal funds — Pelosi accuses Trump of "messing with the health of our children."

Florida smashes single-day record for new coronavirus cases

Data: Covid Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

Florida reported 15,299 confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday — a new single-day record for any state, according to its health department.

The big picture: The figure shatters both Florida's previous record of 11,458 new cases and the single-state record of 11,694 set by California last week, according to AP. It also surpasses New York's daily peak of 11,571 new cases in April, and comes just a day after Disney World reopened in Orlando.