NASA is pulling the plug on its only planned robotic mission to the Moon’s surface. The space agency has reportedly canceled its Resource Prospector — a small rover that was designed to excavate materials such as hydrogen, oxygen, and water from the lunar poles. The move has angered many lunar scientists, and now they’re calling on NASA’s new administrator to keep the program alive, claiming it’s a crucial mission to help return humans back to the Moon.
The main goal of Resource Prospector was to help NASA better understand what kind of materials are lurking at the Moon’s poles. Multiple lunar spacecraft have proven that water exists there in the form of ice, but we don’t know much about what this ice is like. Most of the data we have comes from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is in the Moon’s orbit, and a couple of spacecraft that purposefully crashed into the Moon to get quick measurements of the surface’s composition. The Resource Prospector would examine this water ice up-close for an extended period of time, learning more about its consistency and how much of it is out there.
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