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The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has unveiled the first glimpse of the LUPEX rover, designed for a collaborative mission with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

LUPEX, short for Lunar Polar Exploration, aims to unlock the secrets of the Moon’s polar regions. This international venture will see Japan develop and operate both the launch vehicle and the rover itself. India will contribute by developing and operating the lander that will deliver the rover to the lunar surface.

The LUPEX rover won’t be traveling alone. In addition to Japanese observation equipment, the rover will boast instruments from India, the United States, and Europe, creating a truly international scientific package.

The mission’s primary objective is to assess the potential of the Moon’s water ice deposits as a resource for future sustainable lunar exploration. As the rover traverses the lunar surface, its onboard instruments will gather a wealth of data. This will include excavating lunar soil, or regolith, at various locations to determine the extent and distribution of water ice deposits.

The LUPEX mission is a significant step forward in our understanding of the Moon’s potential to support long-term human presence and scientific exploration.