NASA just welcomed its new administrator Jim Bridenstine, now he will have to face a tough decision as a lunar exploration project looks like it is canceled. NASA has reportedly killed off its Resource Prospector mission, and scientists are not happy with the decision.
A group of scientists has issued a letter to Bridenstine so that he will reconsider the decision by the space program.
Resource Prospector was a mission in which NASA was planning to send a rover to the moon's pole to study the ice deposits that are hypothesized to be there. The goal of the mission was to understand what kinds of materials may be found at the poles. There is water present on the moon as ice but scientists still don't know the makeup of the ice.
Resource Prospector would be able to examine the ice for an extended period of time to find what it is made-up of and the quantity of the ice on the moon. This could allow researchers to mine the water for drinking water or rocket fuel.
NASA is reportedly canceling the mission, it still hasn't officially announced the cancellation but scientists are trying to stay ahead of the space agency.
Letter To Bridenstine
Lunar scientists from the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) wrote a letter to Bridenstine urging him to have NASA reconsider its decision. In the letter, scientists say that this decision is disappointing. They cite Trump's Space Policy Directive 1 and the fact that Resource Prospector was the only lunar rover that NASA was working on.
In the letter LEAG says that the Resource Prospector mission was moved from NASA's human exploration budget to its science budget, it says that this was a mistake. It says that this was a mistake for two reasons. The mission wasn't for science it was to see precede human exploration, according to the LEAG. The second reason for the mistake is that the science program is for small robotic landers, not 660-pound rovers.
One of the co-signers of the letter Clive Neal spoke to Ars Technica. Neal said that since the mission is set to be closed down in May that the group is using the letter to sway the new administrator to change course.
Phil Metzger, a planetary physicist from the University of Central Florida told the Verge that he's not sure why the mission was moved to a different budget. He speculates that the mission was moved because of a delay in NASA's Space Launch System.