Canberra, Australia – Australia has agreed to build a 20-kilogram (44-pound) semi-autonomous lunar rover for NASA to take to the Moon by 2026 in search of oxygen.

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A government statement said the rover will collect soil that contains oxides and that NASA will use a separate instrument to extract oxygen from that soil. Oxygen extracted from the lunar surface will eventually be used to maintain a human presence on the Moon and support future missions to Mars.

Australian Space Agency deputy chief Anthony Murphett said NASA is impressed by the technology used to remotely control the 1,600-kilometre (1,000-mile) giant dump trucks that transport iron ore from mines in northwestern Australia.


NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said the agreement would strengthen the space exploration-related relationship with Australia that is more than 50 years old.

The agreement depends on the rover meeting a number of conditions during its development.