One of NASA’s primary objectives as a space agency is to explore outer space and to drive humanity’s knowledge of the universe forward. With that in mind, a recent decision to cancel a lunar exploration mission has left many scientists scratching their heads.
We’re referring of course to NASA’s Resource Prospector (RP) mission, which would have involved sending a robotic rover to the Moon for the first time. There, RP would have analyzed surface samples at the lunar poles in search of things that we consider essential for life (hydrogen, oxygen, water, etc.).
Given the Trump administration’s ambitious attitude to send humans back to the Moon, RP’s cancellation comes as a bit of a shocker. In fact, many scientists are now petitioning to have the mission reinstated.
NASA still hasn’t stepped forward with an official statement about why RP was canceled, but current acting administrator Jim Bridenstine had this to say in a Tweet on Friday:
“We’re committed to lunar exploration at NASA. Resource Prospector instruments will go forward in an expanded lunar surface campaign. More landers. More science. More exploration. More prospectors. More commercial partners. Ad astra!”
While it doesn’t speak of any reasoning behind the unfortunate decision, it does reveal how RP’s scientific instruments won’t go to waste. In fact, quite the contrary; they could go on to explore the Moon in new ways as NASA devises an ‘expanded’ lunar surface mission for the future.
While plans have indeed changed, and it’s unfortunate that a mission had to be canceled so close to its anticipated launch in the 2020’s, it seems that NASA still has every intention of exploring the Moon. It should be interesting to see what the space agency has planned amid these changes.
Source: The Verge